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Mini drone uses electrode patch to stick to surfaces

A robotics team at Harvard University, USA, has developed a method that would allow their insect-size flying robot, dubbed RoboBee, to conserve energy midflight, much as bees, bats and birds do. By attaching a shock-absorbing mount and a patch that conducts electricity, the researchers were able to direct the tiny robot to perch on a variety of surfaces and then take off again. When activated, the electrical charge held RoboBee in place, much like how a balloon would stick to a wall after it was rubbed against a wool sweater. Terminating the charge enabled the robot to detach from the surface and fly away.

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RoboBee weighs about 100 milligrams and is 20 millimetres tall—about the size and weight of an actual bee (Image courtesy: www.dailymail.co.uk)

The robot made its debut in 2013. It was the first robotic insect that was capable of hovering, and it was modified for the new study to allow it to land midflight.

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