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Inspired by biological bees, researchers at Harvard SEAS are using the concept of a robotic bee to spin out multiple platform technologies to develop microrobots. RoboBee was motivated by the idea to develop autonomous micro-aerial vehicles capable of self-contained, self-directed flight and of achieving coordinated behavior in large groups. RoboBees are manmade systems that could perform myriad roles such as in agriculture or disaster relief. Each one is half the weight of a paper clip (less that one-tenth of a gram) and flies using “artificial muscles” compromised of materials that contract when a voltage is applied. Additional modifications allow some models of RoboBee to transition from swimming underwater to flying, as well as “perch” on surfaces using static electricity.

Led by SEAS Professor Robert Wood, research was divided into three main clusters: Body (power/flight), Brain (sensing/navigation), and Colony (swarming/cooperation). Join the HBSAB as we hear from Christian Chan, PhD student researcher in Prof Wood’s lab on the latest work on the RoboBee, use cases for micro/macro robots from the Wood Lab, and fundamental platform technologies that developed as part of the lab’s research, plus a behind-the-scenes lab tour as well.