Allergic to Robot Bees?

Posted February 17, 2012 by Johnny2x in Science

Tiny Robotic Bee Assembles Itself Like Pop-up Book

Harvard University engineers have come up with a production technique inspired by pop-up books and origami, that allows clones of tiny robots to be mass-produced in sheets.

Pratheev Sreetharan and colleagues at the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory have been working on bio-inspired robots that are about the same size as a bee, can fly and can work autonomously as a robotic colony.

But actually building the little blighters was a painstaking and error-prone process, as the engineers manually folded, aligned and secured each of the minuscule joints.

“You’d take a very fine tungsten wire and dip it in a little bit of superglue,” says Sreetharan in a press release. “Then, with that tiny ball of glue, you’d go in under a microscope like an arthroscopic surgeon and try to stick it in the right place.”

With the new method the engineers don’t just fabricate the robot, but also produce a surrounding “assembly scaffold” that’s attached to the bee-bot by tiny hinges. When the scaffold is lifted by pins, it folds the flat robot’s joints and turns it into a 3D

The Harvard Monolithic Bee (or Mobee), for example, turns from a flat shape into a 2.4-millimetre-tall robot in just one movement — just like a pop-up book. The folding process takes less than a second.

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