Wireless 'RoboFly' appears like an Insect, it's Powered by Lasers

RoboFly is only Just bigger than a real fly.
Credit: Mark Stone/University of Washington
RoboFly's creators will present their findings of the robot on May 23 at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, held in Brisbane, Australia.

Animals' amazing abilities have inspired designs for robots that swim like manta rays, hover like jellyfish, jump like bush babies and even jog like humans. Prior to RoboFly, another insect-like bot, called RoboBee, demonstrated its ability to take off, land, hover and even perch midflight to conserve energy.

But RoboBee was leashed to its power supply and controller. RoboFly flies freely, thanks to a photovoltaic cell on its body that converts energy from a narrow laser beam. It produces about 7 volts of electricity, which a flexible onboard circuit boosts to the 240 volts required for liftoff. Meanwhile, a microcontroller on the circuit acts as RoboFly's "brain," sending pulses of voltage to the wings and making them flap much like an insect's wings would, according to the statement.
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