Scientists have finally done it! They’ve designed perfect replications of a living organism, the humble bumblebee. Researchers from MIT and Harvard came together and designed a perfect copy of an insect, replicating its ability to “perch”, a mighty feat when taking into consideration the need to conserve energy in such a small device. In tackling this hurdle the team found a way to dramatically extend the operational life of the robotic bee. The robobee is able to use electrostatic adhesion through a mount made of shock-absorbing foam and a tiny electrode patch to latch onto upside down surfaces. When in this mode the robobee conserves a significant amount of it supply of energy, only using 1/1000 the amount of energy it requires to keep it airborne.
While this incredible little critters might seem small and seemingly useless, the robobee can actually solve a great many problems us too-big humans can’t handle. The robobee is capable of autonomously pollinating crops, meaning it will solve the pretty serious pollination crisis that has followed in the wake of the diminishing population of wild bees. The entire mission of the scientists that created Robobee was in fact a search for a solution to the disappearance of honeybees since the 2000’s. But that’s not all this incredible robotic insect can do. Robobee is designed to also map and monitor the traffic of weather and climate change with high resolution imaging. Other possible uses are as military surveillance, exploration of environments to dangerous for humans, and assisting in search and rescue operations after natural disasters. With one Robobee completed, the next step for the Robobee Project is creating a Robobee colony.
What other insects could be turned into robots and what possible uses could they have?