Academic journal article Science and Children

Robotic Insects

Academic journal article Science and Children

Robotic Insects

Article excerpt

A group of engineers has been experimenting with a new type of programming that mimics the way an insect's brain works, which could soon have people wondering if that fly on the wall is actually a fly.

The 80-milligram flying RoboBee is outfitted with a number of vision, optical flow, and motion sensors. While the robot currently remains tethered to a power source, researchers are working on eliminating the restraint with the development of new power sources. The algorithms will help make RoboBee more autonomous and adaptable to complex environments without significantly increasing its weight.

"Getting hit by a wind gust or a swinging door would cause these small robots to lose control. We're developing sensors and algorithms to allow RoboBee to avoid the crash, or if crashing, survive and still fly," says Silvia Ferrari of Cornell University. "You can't really rely on prior modeling of the robot to do this, so we want to develop learning controllers that can adapt to any situation."

To speed development of the event-based algorithms, a virtual simulator was created by Taylor Clawson, a doctoral student in Ferrari's lab. …

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