Skip to main content

Check Out the World's Smallest Flying Robot Insect

Good things come in small packages, right? Well, how about this for a small package: The video below shows the world's smallest flying robot insect. It's a demonstration of the first controlled flight of an insect-sized robot and it's the product of more than a decade of work from researchers at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Harvard said Thursday that the RoboBee project was inspired by the biology of a fly and uses a submillimeter-scale anatomy with two wafer-thin wings that flap 120 times per second.

"This is what I have been trying to do for literally the last 12 years," Robert J. Wood, Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at SEAS, Wyss Core Faculty Member, and principal investigator of the National Science Foundation-supported RoboBee project, is quoted as saying. "It's really only because of this lab's recent breakthroughs in manufacturing, materials, and design that we have even been able to try this. And it just worked, spectacularly well."

Uses for the minute robot include environmental monitoring and search-and-rescue operations, but Harvard says the materials, fabrication techniques, and components may be even more significant, and is already in the process of commercializing some of the underlying technology. Check out the video of the little guy in action: