INSPIRED by the biology of a bee and the insect’s hive behavior ...
we aim to push advances in miniature robotics and the design of compact high-energy power sources; spur innovations in ultra-low-power computing and electronic “smart” sensors; and refine coordination algorithms to manage multiple, independent machines.
It started with a TV show, "Silence of the Bees," about honeybee populations in steep decline. At Harvard University, electrical engineers Rob Wood and Gu-Yeon Wei, and computer scientist Radhika Nagpal saw a challenge. And, so began the creation of the "RoboBee," a miniature flying robot, inspired by the biology of a bee and the insect's hive behavior. With support from the National Science Foundation and a program called Expeditions in Computing, Wood put together a diverse team of collaborators to get the RoboBee project off the ground. [...]
As the characteristic size of a flying robot decreases, the challenges for successful flight revert to basic questions of fabrication, actuation, fluid mechanics, stabilization, and power - whereas such questions have in general been answered for larger aircraft. When developing a flying robot on the scale of a common housefly, all hardware must be developed from scratch as there is nothing "off-the-shelf" which can be used for mechanisms, sensors, or computation that would satisfy the extreme mass and power limitations. [...]