Winged robot smaller than a pea could pollinate crops

Winged robot smaller than a pea could pollinate crops

A miniscule robot that flies by wind and is controlled by light could help to pollinate crops. Researchers at Tampere University in Finland have developed the Flying Aero-robots based on Light Responsive Materials Assembly (Fairy) project) with the hope that they will mitigate the decline in the world’s bee population.

The rise of stimuli-responsive polymers has brought about a wealth of materials for small-scale, wirelessly controlled soft-bodied robots.

Thinking beyond conventional robotic mobilities already demonstrated in synthetic systems, such as walking, swimming and jumping, flying in air by dispersal, gliding, or even hovering is a frontier yet to be explored by responsive materials.

And the researchers are doing just that with a design inspired by the seed of dandelion, resembling several biomimetic features, including high porosity, lightweight form, and separated vortex ring generation under a steady wind flow.

Superior to its natural counterparts, this artificial seed is equipped with a soft actuator made of light-responsive liquid crystalline elastomer, which induces reversible opening/closing actions of the bristles upon visible light excitation.

This incredible shape-morphing enables manual tuning of terminal velocity, drag coefficient, and wind threshold for dispersal.

Continue reading.

Photo Courtesy of AgriTech Future



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