Interested in robotics, Westbury, NY, resident Valerie Varnuska finds the diverse ways in which robots move and communicate fascinating. Valerie Varnuska follows robotic competitions and has been amazed at the improvements to the robotic hand over the years. Many of the latest advances are in the area of extremely small robots, including a “robotic insect” called the Robobee.
Developed by the Harvard University Microrobotics Laboratory, the Robobee is the size of a small coin. It is designed to excel at reconnaissance activities such as disaster relief and environmental monitoring. For example, the insect-like drones can potentially carry sensors that will provide response units with real-time alerts when forest fires or floods occur.
A distinct innovation of the Robobee is that it has the ability to perch. This saves significant energy over hovering, which drains the batteries of micro-robots. In response to the considerable challenges of creating a “perching” movement, Harvard scientists have come up with an electrostatically charged “landing patch,” which allows the Robobee to adhere, or be set free to fly, with a simple on-off switch.