Video: mass production of millimetre scale flying robots

By February 20, 2012Innovation

The robots are coming. I made that point in a tweet last week about Google’s driverless cars, and if you watch the video below you will see that insect sized robots are on the way too.

These insect sized bots can be manufactured as a single sheet which then folds up into a 3D shape like a children’s pop up book. This pop up technology is very clever and enables cheap mass production of these robots. If you don’t want to watch the whole video the key moments to see how the pop-up works are at 1min 50s and 3min 15s.

Unfortunately we don’t ever see the robot flying, which leaves me a little sceptical, but if you look at the Youtube channel for the Harvard Microbiotics Lab (who have developed this technology) then you will find videos of similar sized robots walking.

The big picture here is that within ten years there could be literally millions of these types of bots fitted with sensors and radios. That is pretty revolutionary. The only application obvious to me is military, but if they are cheap enough I’m sure people will invent plenty of others.

Thanks to Phil Jones for the pointer.

  • Andy Yelland

    That’s a great manufacturing technique, which appears to scale well.  From their YouTube channel, it appears the bee does not have a brain yet, but that’s ‘just software’ and a solved problem, right?  It also seems to use external power.  It all depends on what weight those wings can power, as to how quickly we’ll see ‘millions’.  If they got the weight capacity now, then I feel your 10 year prediction is about 3x too large before ‘millions’.

    Stick mesh-network routing on them, and you can hit wireless-everywhere real quick.  Network busy? fly in more.

  • brisbourne

    I like that idea. Networks that self heal at the physical level.