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Tiny Robotic Bee Assembles Itself Like Pop-Up Book (wired.com)
166 points by owlmusic on Feb 18, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments

Disregarding the engineering of the bee itself (which is equally amazing) the fabrication process is brilliant. 2 things come to mind when I watch this. A. I live in the future. B. There are people out there far more intelligent than I. Consider my mind blown.

I wonder if they are working on a method to power the bee for actual flight. Of course it has no control system either at this point. Off to read more. Thanks to the poster for the link.

Look up Erik Demaine, winner of a 2003 MacArthur genius award. You may have seen him on the 'in between the folds' origami documentary. I have a feeling that this process has a lot to do with his past work in origami and algorithms.

His website: http://erikdemaine.org

Intro to folding: http://erikdemaine.org/folding/

Between the Folds is a great documentary. Amazing stuff, both artistically and in engineering.

A. I live in the future.

Indeed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyMdOT8YJgY Enjoy.

This is intensely interesting but completely off topic.

They probably accomplish stuff faster than you but I don't think it's impossible for you to develop robots like those bees. It just that it required hard work chipping away at those little microproblems.

every thread needs a motivational speaker

Beautiful work. Although, I'd recommend just reading the press release[1]. It is more in depth and better explains the accuracy and reliability they can achieve.

I especially love seeing the bee in operation. Does anyone know by what mechanism the motion is generated?

Edit: My best guess is piezoelectric actuators[2].

[1] http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news-events/press-releases/pop-u...

[2] http://micro.seas.harvard.edu/papers/Karpelson_ICRA09.pdf

At about 0:58 in the video linked from the Wired article, the narrator says "and two piezoelectric inserts for actuation."

Ah, yes. Thanks. I must have glossed over that when watching it.

The Bee didn't assemble itself, nor did it look robotic to me yet as it was not even shown if it could fly or do other tasks. Very cool demo tho.

The bee is incidental. The real "product" here is is the manufacturing technique.

It has enough technology, primarily built-in circuitry to turn electric current into motive force, to show that more complicated robotics are possible.

There's much leftover material that looks to be wasted. Is there any reason the block has to be this size? Can't the margins be smaller?

Looks like this configuration would allow the highest density of units to be fabricated per given surface area. Notice that the hexagon is just barely larger than the wing span where they approach each other. Can't do the math now, but it's likely more space efficient to use the hexagon, than a plain rectangle. You'll need to use one of those shapes so you can tessellate without lose. The carbon fiber structure might not have to be continuous, though I suspect that it might play a role in positioning during fabrication.

They showed a lot of them grouped together into a sheet towards the end of the video, so I assume the hexagon was just a prototype or made specifically for demonstration. Although if you're talking about margins between them on the sheet, I'm not sure.

Like everything, this will be refined over time. Give them a chance!!!!!!!

I'd love to see video of a swarm of these

You won't, unless it's CGI.

Well, you might. IIRC, there is another group who have those micro helicopters working in a swarm like way. I assume convergence at some point in the not too distant future.

I presume you mean the Nano Quadrotors: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQIMGV5vtd4

No, he meant the swarm of micro-helicopters as part of the same project. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8LkcgYRHdA

Or both.

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