The challenges for flying insect-scale robots encompass basic questions of fabrication, design, propulsion, actuation, control, and power – topics that have in general been answered for larger aircraft. When developing a flying robot on the scale of flies and bees, all hardware must be developed from scratch as there are no “off-the-shelf” sensors, actuators, or microcontrollers that can satisfy the extreme mass and power limitations imposed by such vehicles. Similar challenges exist for fabrication and assembly of the structural and aeromechanical components of insect-scale micro air vehicles that neither macro-scale techniques nor MEMS can adequately solve. With these challenges in mind, this talk will present progress in the essential technologies for robotic insects.
Robert Wood is an Associate Professor in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. His current research interests include new micro- and meso-scale manufacturing techniques, fluid mechanics of low Reynolds number flapping wings, control of sensor-limited and computation-limited systems, active soft materials, and morphable soft-bodied robots. He is the winner of multiple awards for his work including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and in 2012 he was selected for the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman award. Wood’s group is also dedicated to STEM education by using novel robots to motivate young students to pursue careers in science and engineering.
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