Fly sized robots take flight. Benefits and Dangers
The future is here. Are we ready for it?
I don't know about you but I'm just absolutely amazed at technology. I grew up around it, my grandfather was a professor for a local college and taught in the computer programming field. As a young boy, he would bring me home the literal inner workings of computers and explain them to me.
"This is a vacuum tube son, this is a microchip, etc." Interest in technology ingrained itself into my psyche and has stayed with me ever since. Perhaps that's why I enjoy learning about the latest gadgets and doo-dads that are either being developed or are already on the market. I've always kind of known my way around technology.....knowing instinctively how things work.
Technology is quite the amazing feat of imaginative thinking. From Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs, it's taken dreamers....nay... revolutionary thinkers to come up with this stuff.
Thomas Edison was once asked about his 9,000 failing tries to make a lightbulb and whether or not he should just give up on the whole idea. Paraphrasing, Edison replied, "I didn't fail 9,000 times, I just found 9,000 ways that the bulb doesn't work." After 10,000 tries, Edison succeeded in his full vision of the bulb and the world changed! Talk about a visionary!
What was the inspiration?
It was the insect world frankly.
The team took inspiration from the fact that insects are so small and usually tend to have smaller wings, yet they're able to fly through the air, even straight-line winds without too much trouble.
The question was, "Can we do the same thing in robotics?"
Historical breakthrough in robotics.
So here we are at this point in History and technology, taking a small step forward that will be a giant leap for mankind again (we've had a ton of these in the past 10 years haven't we?).
A Harvard professor named Robert Wood has just made a breakthrough in the realm of Robotics. He's been working for about 12 years to see his dream come true: Making a robot the size of a penny actually take flight!
Well I'm here to tell you that he's finally made his dream a reality.
Wood and his team at Harvard have succeeded in constructing the world's smallest flying robot to date and the results are staggeringly impressive. The robot is able to be remote controlled during flight and responds to commands accordingly. The video of this is quite breathtaking.
Does this technology scare you, amaze you, or both?
How'd they put it all together?
Manufacturing is a tricky process in general, but even more so in terms of smaller scale. Things are not easier because it's smaller, as a matter of fact they can be almost impossible to accomplish. There have been many challenges because of this in trying to get the lil' robo-fly to work right.
So the team had to start from scratch and invent a new way to manufacture, which just so happens to be inspired by those fun 3-D pop-up books you like to read your kids! They devised a process that combined brass, ceramic, carbon fiber, and many other materials that could then be cut into sheets and circuits by a high-precision laser.
They were then able to tailor the sheets into anything they wanted to. So poof, out pops this nearly weightless little robot! (I'm still waiting for someone to make an actual TRANSFORMER...like Optimus Prime).
The one thing they still have to do is come up with an internal power source. As of right now, the device is still tethered to a power source by a tiny cord until they devise a battery small enough to fit it. But the team says they're currently working on it.
They had several prototypes that didn't end up working out but last in the Summer of 2012, they conducted their first successful flight at 3 am in the morning. Amazing results so far.
The design process.
It's definitely an amazing piece of hardware that could give us many benefits for the future:
- Think Mission Impossible. Give our spies the ability to carry out covert operations much more efficiently.
- Local law enforcement agencies could do the same, you could equip the thing with a miniature video cam to relay information back to be able to disarm a bomb or deal with a hostage situation. Think "fly-on-the-wall".
- Theoretically if a plane in flight begins having trouble, you could fly one of these to an unreachable part of it during flight to relay the information on the problem. (Very unlikely right away, they'd have to affix this thing with an afterburner, but still...using that imagination.)
- What are your thoughts below in the comments? I'm really curious. Give me benefits.
Revealed letter from Attorney General of U.S. Eric Holder leaving open the possibility of drone strikes on U.S. citizens.
Okay, there's two sides to every coin.
- In the wrong hands, there is no privacy. Your neighbors could snoop on ya. Gives a whole new shine on Peeping Toms.
- Tyrannical governments could use this against their own citizens in some way. Think this is far-fetched? Most recently, Our own U.S. government has advocated using drones to kill U.S. citizens without arrest or trial. (I'm not talking about a bomb-strapping madman in the middle of his act.) Look this one up, they're talking about it now.
- On the black-market, drug-dealers or anyone for that matter could own one of these and use them for illegal purposes.
- The new G.I. Joe movie actually showcased a villain named "Firefly" who uses a variation of these robots to carry explosives and kill people with them. You never know these days.
- Your thoughts on the dangers.
Other interesting reads on robotics.
- Robots: Possible Take Over of the World
Could robots take over the world? Today, we have remote controlled robots that working in concert with people are doing something akin to a robot takeover, but robots still can't do this on their own. Artificial Intelligence (AI), may give them the c