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Insect-Inspired Sensors Improve Tiny Robot’s Flight

Microroboticists have designed simple sensors based on insect light organs called ocelli to stabilize a miniature flying robot.

Rina Shaikh-Lesko

HARVARD, SAWYER FULLERResearchers have developed a tiny flying robot with a self-stabilizing feature inspired by ocelli, the light-sensing organs of insects, according to a study published today (June 18) in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. A team from the Microrobotics Lab at Harvard University, led by Robert Wood, is one step closer to its goal of developing an autonomous, insect-sized flying robot. The researchers’ findings might also help entomologists better understand the role ocelli play in insect flight stabilization.

“There are very few people trying to do this at this scale,” said bioroboticist Barbara Webb of the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the work. “It makes everything more difficult, but also makes it more realistic as a model of the insect. I’m impressed by what they’ve managed to do.”

Last year, the team published a paper in Science describing its efforts to...

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