Bizarre ‘robot flies’ revealed that could replace bees and ‘save humanity’
RESEARCHERS have developed tiny robotic “flies” that move on wind and are controlled by light.
The team, which hails from the University of Tampere in Finland, published theirs Results in the journal Advanced Science.
Dubbed the FAIRY project, the innovation was inspired by dandelion seeds and could have potential applications in agriculture.
In the future, millions of these tiny robots could carry pollen and be freely dispersed by natural winds.
In addition, light could direct them to specific areas with trees awaiting pollination.
Hao Zeng, Academy Research Fellow and lead author of the study, explains: “This would have a huge impact on agriculture worldwide, as the loss of pollinators due to global warming has become a serious threat to biodiversity and food production.”
This includes bees, which are essential to our ecosystem but are facing rapid population declines.
Scientists developed the ‘flying robots’, which weigh 1.2 mg and have a porosity of 0.95, from polymer.
Because of their structure, they can easily float in the air when steered by the wind.
They are also equipped with a stable separate vortex ring generation, which enables long-distance wind-assisted travel.
“The fairy can be powered and controlled by a light source such as a laser beam or LED,” says Zeng.
This means that light can be used to change the shape of the tiny dandelion seed-like structure.
By changing its shape, the fairy can also manually adapt to wind direction and strength.
A beam of light can also be used to control the take-off and landing actions of the polymer assembly.
Next, the researchers plan to focus on improving material sensitivity to operate the device in sunlight.
In addition, they want to improve the structure so that it can support microelectronic devices such as GPS and sensors.
And according to Zeng, there is potential for even more significant applications.
He said: “It sounds like science fiction, but the proof-of-concept experiments in our research show that the robot we are developing represents an important step towards realistic applications suitable for artificial pollination.”
“This would have a huge impact on agriculture worldwide, as the loss of pollinators due to global warming has become a serious threat to biodiversity and food production.”
The FAIRY project started in September 2021 and will run until August 2026.
https://www.thesun.ie/tech/news-tech/10150954/bizarre-robot-flies-replace-bees-save-humanity/ Bizarre ‘robot flies’ revealed that could replace bees and ‘save humanity’