It's hard to tell the difference between this robot and a fruit fly

A team of researchers has developed this acrobatic robot.


Humans might be worrying about robots taking their jobs, but you know who else should start taking robots seriously now? Fruit flies. That's if you have heard of a new robotic creation by the researchers from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.


The team has built an agile, quad-wing flapping robot, that is capable of exhibiting the same kind of motion as its living counterpart. It is the newest robot from the DelFly robots created by the researchers.

"Our previous DelFly robots had an airplane-like tail, which made it stable, and was used for steering," Matěj Karásek, who led the work, told Digital Trends. "Fruit flies, but also other insects, have no such tail. Instead, they control their flight by adjustments of the motion patterns of [their] flapping wings. The DelFly Nimble does the same: It uses its flapping wings not only to produce lift force that keeps it flying but also for control. The loss of tail makes it much more agile, like flying insects."

The four wings placed on the robot lets it control three axes of flight. With their help, it is able to perform fly-like moves like a full 360-degree flip. The robot is able to fly for only five minutes, as of now. It sure does limit the usefulness of the robot, but with proper enhancements, this could be changed in the coming days.

"Currently, the robot can already carry a small camera, sending live images to the operator, and can fly for more than a kilometer when fully charged," said Karásek. "We are already working on making the drone fully autonomous by adding a camera system as in our previous DelFly Explorer."

Guido de Croon, another researcher on the project, believes that the flapping wing propulsion will make it easy to miniaturize versatile flying robots in the future. He imagines "swarms of these tiny, fully autonomous robots pollinating plants in greenhouses, or searching for survivors in collapsed buildings after earthquakes."

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