Sweet! Tiny, far-flying robot based on honeybee
Researchers working on agile, self-navigating 'robotbee' capable of flying around the world using little fuel
Computerworld - To develop tiny flying robots that are agile and can navigate on their own, researchers in Australia are turning to the honeybee.
That's right. The honeybee is a fuel-efficient flyer that uses its eyes, antennae and abdomen to direct itself and to fly using as little energy as possible. Scientists at the University of Queensland expect that those attributes will help them design robotic "robotbee" flyers.
"The bees are living proof that it's possible to engineer airborne vehicles that are agile, navigationally competent, weigh less than 100 milligrams, and can fly around the world using the energy given by an ounce of honey," said Mandyam Srinivasan, a professor at the university's Queensland Brain Institute. "Honeybees often have to travel very long distances with only a small amount of nectar, so they have to be as fuel-efficient as possible. They achieve this by raising their abdomen to reduce drag so they can fly at high speeds while using less energy."
Honeybees use vision to judge their air speed and then move their abdomens to make their bodies more fuel efficient.
"When we trick a honeybee into thinking that it's flying forward by running background images past its eyes, the bee will move its body into a flying position despite being tethered," said Gavin Taylor, a graduate student at the university. "The faster we move the images, the higher it lifts its abdomen to prepare for rapid flight."
The honeybee also uses its antenna to judge the speed of the air flow going past its body. If the antenna isn't functioning normally, it relies solely on its eyesight.
"A better understanding of how honeybees fly takes us one step further towards perfecting the flying machines," said Srinivasan.
Nature has long provided research data to scientists developing robotic machines.
Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University built a snake-like robot to crawl through and inspect pipes and other hard to reach systems of nuclear power plants.
A squishy robot built by researchers at Harvard University is based on the design of creatures like starfish and squid to let it disguise itself and change colors.
Researchers at the University of Bath built a swimming robot that is powered by a Amazonian knifefish-type fin instead of a more boat-like propeller.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Cosmonauts deploy nanosatellites during spacewalk
- Scientists create self-assembling, working robots
- When astronauts breathe on Mars, they'll thank MIT professor
- Big tech firms back Wi-FAR for remote broadband
- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity closes in on ultimate destination
- Qi wireless charging spec gets more flexibility with distance extension
- NASA upgrades humanoid robot in space
- NASA: Finding life on other planets is within our grasp
- Money talks, and that's all quantum maker D-Wave has to say
- 45 years after moon landing, NASA looks to next giant leap
Read more about Emerging Technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.
- Unlocking the Promise of Demand Sensing and Shaping through Big Data Analytics Many organizations have limited insight into big data. These limitations have significant opportunity costs and can have a negative effect on identifying and...
- The Brave New World of Customer-Centric Manufacturing The Unique Opportunity for Manufacturers to Better Understand their Consumers
- Intelligent Imaging for Improved Banking Performance and Profitability A new generation of "Intelligent Imaging" solutions has emerged that is helping banks remove the burden of paper in legacy processes, like loan...
- Market Overview: Digital Customer Experience Delivery Platforms Forrester states that businesses today struggle to understand and use the tools necessary to create and manage unified, multichannel digital customer experiences across...
- Cloud BI in Action: Recorded Webinar of Customer, Kony, Inc. See how Kony, Inc., a leading enterprise mobility company, is using TIBCO Jaspersoft for Amazon Web Services and Redshift to achieve embedded analytics...
- Cloud BI Overview: Jaspersoft for AWS Check out this overview of Jaspersoft for AWS, to easily and affordably build business intelligence solutions as well as embed visualizations and analytics... All Emerging Technologies White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!