June 7, 2002
A robotic fly could fly - soon
The University of California at Berkeley demonstrated a small artificial wing "that flaps like a real fly wing and generates lift". The experiment is considered as a major milestone on the road to achieving an actual robotic fly (left, an artist rendering of the future tiny robot).
The project has started four years ago at Berkeley. According to Ronald Fearing, leader of the project, one of the difficulties has been to build "a wing mechanism which can both flap and rotate simultaneously at 150 times per second, the same speed as a fly's wings beat". Thanks to deep studies of how real insects fly, the scientists are now very close to create what could be the first "robotic fly", or more exactly the first "MFI" - Micromechanical Flying Insect.
The researchers estimate that such a robot, able to fly and weighing a tenth of a gram, could be achieved by the end of year 2003. Just in case you'd like to get yours, a commercial version of the MFI could be on the market in 10 years from now, according to Fearing.
Picture: © UC Berkeley

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  • The robotic fly project (UC Berkeley)

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