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Flying Robots

May 24, 2016

Engineers have designed flying robots that efficiently perch, extending their missions.

Transcript

Carla Schaffer robot perched under leaf

A flying robot perches on the underside of a leaf. WATCH VIDEO (Carla Schaffer/AAAS)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Clingy flying robots. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Flying robots can search for missing persons and explore environments that are too hazardous for humans to venture into.

ROBERT WOOD (Harvard University):

Theres’ a lot of benefits of using these type of robots. They’re agile, they can fit into small nooks and crannies; you can have a lot of them operating simulataneously to have greater coverage, but the drawback is they are very inefficient at flying.   

HIRSHON:

So Harvard and MIT engineers Robert Wood and Moritz Graule designed a mini flying robot that attaches itself to the underside of a variety of surfaces via electrostatic forces. Wood says the robots consume almost no power while perched.

WOOD:

So it’s really an energy savings that could hypothetically substantially increase the mission lifetime for these types of robots.

HIRSHON:

The researchers and their colleagues report their findings in the journal Science. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.