From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : RoboBee X-Wing
Mains level : Applications of Nanotechnology
- The Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory in Cambridge has claimed to have made possible the “lightest insect-scale aerial vehicle so far to have achieved sustained, untethered flight.
- The robot can sustain a flight for less than a second. It is essentially a flying machine, which can flap its wings 120 times a second and is half the size of a paperclip.
- Initially, the researchers called this lightest centimetre-sized vehicle, “RoboBee”, but with the current advancement which makes it possible for RoboBee to fly untethered, its name has been upgraded to “RoboBee X-Wing”.
- The robot weighs 259 mg and uses 110-120 milliwatts of power using solar energy, matching the “thrust efficiency” of similarly sized insects such as bees.
- Much like aircraft, the robot is heavier than the air it displaces — a concept referred to as “heavier-than-air flight”.
- However, when objects become smaller, achieving a heavier-than-air flight becomes more complicated.
Why make insect like robot?
- Studying the mechanisms that insects use to flap their wings and navigate in the air is a matter of interest to biologists.
- Flapping-wing robots can help in addressing questions related to the evolution of flight, the mechanical basis of natural selection and environmental monitoring.