Researchers at Harvard University have been experimenting with a mere two-centimeter robot bee for several years. In the meantime, they have already taught their development a lot of tricks. So the artificial bee can land on the leaf of a plant and dip into water. With all of this, the two tiny piezomotors needed to make sure that the wings of the mini-robot beat about 170 times a second, but were powered by a connected cable. As a result, the flight distance is clearly limited. Now the researchers have succeeded for the first time to let the robot bee fly completely self-sufficient. However, there is still considerable room for improvement in this point.
The sunlight does not provide enough energy
The solution found is that a tiny solar module has been installed over the wings. Electronics were also installed below the small drone in order to convert the DC voltage produced by the solar cells into AC voltage. In addition, a halogen lamp was installed in the laboratory. When the researchers turned it on and aimed it at the solar panel, the mini drone actually rose and flew in the direction of the light. From the researchers' point of view, this was an important achievement. However, it may take some time before the robot bee can travel longer distances in the open air. So far, there are two things in the way: Firstly, the normal sunlight is not enough to gain enough electricity with the installed solar module.
Better aerodynamics is the next goal
Instead, a three times stronger light source had to be used. In addition: Even so, the RoboBee flew only for a few seconds targeted in one direction. Then he spun slowly towards the ground. The reason for this is the additional weight, which was installed by solar module and electronics. The researchers now want to revise the overall design and thus achieve a higher aerodynamics. The hope is that the artificial bee can stay in the air for much longer. The experiments at Harvard initially serve only basic research. An engineer in Japan, however, already has bigger plans: He also developed a mini-drone in bee format and sees this as a kind of emergency insurance. Should there be any real bees on Earth one day, the mini-drones could do the pollination of the plants .
Scientific publication: Nature