Winged Victory: Fly-Size Wing Flapper Lifts Off

The hope is to build robotic flies that could work in any situation in which it would be better or safer to send them instead of humans

3 min read

Despite the fact that we’d likely drown in our own waste if it weren’t for their ­enormous fondness for eating our ­garbage and excrement, flies don’t get any respect. Not from most of us ­anyway, who see only pests and disease vectors as we swat with abandon whenever they’re around.

But there are a few good scientists and engineers who reach for their notebooks and video cameras instead, amazed and astounded by flies’ aeronautic wizardry. With a brain that’s home to several hundred thousand neurons—we each house 100 billion in ours—a fly can duck, dive, hover, rotate, and fly with easy accuracy and endurance, despite having a lousy field of vision and a carb-based Dumpster diet for fuel.

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Top Tech 2023: A Special Report

These two dozen technical projects should make significant advances in the coming year

2 min read
Top Tech 2023: A Special Report
Edmon DeHaro

Each January, the editors of IEEE Spectrum offer up some predictions about technical developments we expect to be in the news over the coming year. You’ll find a couple dozen of those described in the following special report. Of course, the number of things we could have written about is far higher, so we had to be selective in picking which projects to feature. And we’re not ashamed to admit, gee-whiz appeal often shaped our choices.

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