Using an idea similar to that of a child's pop-up book, Harvard scientists have come up with a technique that could be the future of mass-producing insect-like drones.
The Daily Mail reports that the Harvard developers created tiny robots -- we're talking 2.4mm tall -- out of sheets composed of carbon fiber, plastic film, titanium brass and ceramics that are laser cut with a design. When "activated" the sheet pops up and together into an insect with wings. The template being less than the size of a quarter, many of the robots could be produced from a single sheet.
The Daily Mail has more on the design concept:
The 18-layer structure incorporates flexible hinges that allow the three-dimensional product—just 2.4 millimeters tall—to assemble in one movement, like a pop-up book.
The Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory has been working for years to build bio-inspired, bee-sized robots that can fly and behave autonomously as a colony.
"We can generate full systems in any three-dimensional shape,' says Professor Robert Wood. "We've also demonstrated that we can create self-assembling devices by including pre-stressed materials."
"In a larger device, you can take a robot leg, for example, open it up, and just bolt in circuit boards. We're so small that we don't get to do that."
Here the developers explain the technology (Note: Zip to 2:53 to see the pop up in action; at 4:09 the wings begin to buzz):