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Insane bug bots go bug wild

Bug-sized robots created by Harvard can zip along at a speed of 37 centimetres per second.

(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

Bug-sized robots created by Harvard can zip along at a speed of 37 centimetres per second.

Harvard's microrobotics lab has been busily beavering away, and teeny tiny flying robotic bees aren't all that it has up its sleeve. The lab recently showed off another addition to its line-up of entomology-inspired gadgets: the HAMR, or Harvard Ambulatory MicroRobot.

Using the PC-MEMS fabrication process employed for the RoboBee, HAMR was constructed from 23 layers of flat carbon fibre, polymers and ceramics, laser cut and assembled into a 3D shape using a technique inspired by pop-up books.

The HAMR robot itself weighs just 1.3 grams and has four legs. Because the robot is much too small for more traditional locomotive electronics, the legs are moved using six small but powerful pizoelectric ceramic actuators. But these create another issue again: because of the size of the robot, and because of how much power the actuators draw, a battery would be far too heavy for its frame. Instead, like the RoboBees, HAMR is tethered to a power source, allowing it to zip along at a speed of 37 centimetres per second.

Perhaps Jennifer Lewis' grain-of-sand-sized 3D-printed battery could be of assistance here.

That's not to say that HAMR can't carry a battery — it just slows down a lot. In fact, it is capable of carrying more than its own body weight.

Although for Harvard these robots are pretty serious business, helping them break down and study insect movement and potentially build tiny robots that can go where humans cannot, we just can't help thinking how cool they'd be just to have around. Every Friday would be HAMR race day. Just look at them go!

Via www.treehugger.com