Scientists are printing tiny robotic bees en masse with a technology used to print circuit boards.
Drones (and microdrones) have become a topic of public interest this year–there was even a Drone Day at SXSW this month–but we’ve yet to hear much about how they’re manufactured. An article in Scientific American this month describes how a group of Harvard Scientists are pioneering a method of building robotic bees (henceforth referred to as RoboBees or Monobees), using a technique derived from pop-up books and origami.
The RoboBee project began in 2009, when a group of researchers set out to build a robotic bee colony. They were acting primarily in response to Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious phenomenon that’s causing millions of bees and hives to suddenly disappear. The thinking went that building a robotic colony could help scientists to understand what was going wrong. Designing the necessary hardware to fit onto the bee’s nickel-sized body has proved a huge challenge. The RoboBees have a “nervous system” of microelectronics, including sensors, that act as the bees’ eyes and antennae, as well as a body with superlight airfoil wings and a pollination appendage. The current RoboBee prototype still flies attached to a power supply wire, since a battery would weigh them down.
Source: Fast CoDesign