Fly, Robot Fly

Whether as rescue robot or flying spy, this micro-aerial vehicle could change how we look at the common housefly

8 min read
Fly, Robot Fly
Photo: Dan Saelinger

There is no more rewarding moment for roboticists than when they first see their creations begin to twitch with a glimmer of life. For me, that moment of paternal pride came a year ago this month, when my artificial fly first flexed its wings and flew.

It began when I took a stick-thin winged robot, not much larger than a fingertip, and anchored it between two taut wires, rather like a miniature space shuttle tethered to a launchpad. Next I switched on the external power supply. Within milliseconds the carbon-fiber wings, 15 millimeters long, began to whip forward and back 120 times per second, flapping and twisting just like an actual insect’s wings. The fly shot straight upward on the track laid out by the wires [see photo, "Winged Victory"]. As far as I know, this was the first flight of an insect-size robot.

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Video Friday: Such a Showoff

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

2 min read
An animated gif showing a humanoid robot stumble and recover after doing a backflip

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

IEEE RO-MAN 2023: 28–31 August 2023, BUSAN, KOREA
RoboCup 2023: 4–10 July 2023, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
CLAWAR 2023: 2–4 October 2023, FLORIANOPOLIS, BRAZIL
RSS 2023: 10–14 July 2023, DAEGU, KOREA
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON
Robotics Summit & Expo: 10–11 May 2023, BOSTON

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Fine-Tuning the Factory: Simulation App Helps Optimize Additive Manufacturing Facility

Additive manufacturing processes can provide rapid and customizable production of high-quality components

7 min read
Fine-Tuning the Factory: Simulation App Helps Optimize Additive Manufacturing Facility

An example of a part produced through the metal powder bed fusion process.

This sponsored article is brought to you by COMSOL.

History teaches that the Industrial Revolution began in England in the mid-18th century. While that era of sooty foundries and mills is long past, manufacturing remains essential — and challenging. One promising way to meet modern industrial challenges is by using additive manufacturing (AM) processes, such as powder bed fusion and other emerging techniques. To fulfill its promise of rapid, precise, and customizable production, AM demands more than just a retooling of factory equipment; it also calls for new approaches to factory operation and management.

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