Engineers at the University of Tampere in Finland have created a flying robot that can be powered by light and wind. Engineers at the University of Tampere in Finland have succeeded in creating a robot that is unique in more ways than one. They have created a 4-millimetre machine that can take off and fly using solar energy and a gentle breeze.
Called Fairy, the device weighs just 1.2 milligrams and looks like the seed of a dandelion. Its wings are designed to create a vortex around them in the wind. When exposed to light, the wing opens and beats, allowing it to soar.
The actuator, the material that converts input energy (such as light) into kinetic energy, is made of a light-sensitive liquid crystalline elastomer. This is what scientists used to make the wings.
According to Hao Zeng, a scientist at the university, the goal was to make a soft robot, an area that has become increasingly popular in robotics in recent years. The aim is to build devices that can perform as well as possible by mimicking nature.
Fairy can be flown using a laser beam or LED. In the future, the researchers will work on making it work by using sunlight. They also want to scale it up and make a device at least 10 centimetres long. This would allow it to carry a GPS receiver or even a chemical substance. But one day it could also be used as an artificial pollinator.