RoboBees Harvard Breakthrough Invention

Microrobots with Controlled Flight

Source:  Harvard University

Search & Rescue Missions
Harvard's RoboBees are the first microbots powered by soft actuators to achieve controlled flight. They have soft artificial muscles that enable them to survive crashes and collisions making them perfect for search and rescue missions in dangerous, cluttered environments. The robobees are so sturdy, dexterous and resilient they can even crash into a wall or collide with another robobee without any damage.

The tiny robots are equipped with actuators made from dielectric elastomers that deform when hit with an electrical current.  The actuators are soft and the Harvard team says they're easily assembled and scaled up.  Unlike other drones made with soft actuators, the robobees have enough power density to hover in place.

Going for Commercialization
The Harvard team has created a number of models including one with 8 wings and 4 actuators that can do controlled hovering flight, which is a first.  They feel the sky is the limit for the number of robots of this type that they can build. Harvard's Office of Technology Development has protected the intellectual property of this invention and is exploring commercialization.  For a free Kindle borrow or sample listen to journalist Ed Kane's book "Important Innovations Collection - Robotics" (audiobook which I narrated), "List of Top New Robots" (e-book), go to


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