Around the size of a paper-clip, the RoboBee is crafted from flat layers of laser-cut carbon fiber and weighs about 80 mg. Through a set of piezoelectric actuators it flaps gossamer-like plastic wings back and forth at 120 beats per second, but in its current form it is powered from an external source by way of a wire tether.

The researchers behind the RoboBee imagine that one day swarms of the tiny robots will work together in search and rescue operations, to monitor crops and even carry out espionage missions. An ability to fly for longer would be very useful for these purposes, as it would for most drone applications, for that matter.

As the researchers work to develop an untethered RoboBee, they are looking at their creation from every angle to work out how to minimize its power requirements. This led them back to their original inspiration in nature, where creatures like bats, birds and butterflies will perch during flight to conserve energy.

Currently RoboBee can only perch on vertical and overhanging surfaces as the patch is fitted to its top surface, but researchers plan on tweaking the design so it can plant itself anywhere.

Source: Gizmag