The insect-inspired machine is about 1,000 times lighter than previous aerial-aquatic bots
Yufeng Chen, E. Farrell Helbling and Hongqiang Wang
A new insect-inspired tiny robot that can move between air and water is a lightweight.
Weighing the same as about six grains of rice, it is the lightest robot that can fly, swim and launch itself from water, an international team of researchers reports October 25 in Science Robotics. The bot is about 1,000 times lighter than other previously developed aerial-aquatic robots. In the future, this kind of aquatic flier could be used to perform search-and-rescue operations, sample water quality or simply explore by air or sea.
To hover, the bot flaps its translucent wings 220 to 300 times per second, somewhat faster than a housefly. Once submerged, the tiny robot surfaces by slowly flapping its wings at about nine beats per second to maintain stability underwater.
For the tricky water-to-air transition, the bot