Micro-scale, insect-like flying-robots have been flying around for a while now. There was the DARPA-funded robot fly in 2007 (which just went up and down), for example, and the three-gram (0.1-oz) DelFly Micro in 2008, declared the following year by Guinness Book of Records as the “Smallest camera-equipped aircraft in the world.” But when Harvard’s 80-milligram (0.0028-oz) RoboBee first flew in 2013, it made the DelFly Micro look like an albatross with a brick in its pocket.
It’s the RoboBee format which the USC research team has expanded upon in its Bee+ project, which was submitted to IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters this month. Harvard’s RoboBee was limited in its maneuverability by the fact that it had only one pair of wings . This made flight-control difficult and flight-stability somewhat wiggly. With one pair of wings – each controlled by a tiny 25-mg, piezoelectric actuator – the operators of the RoboBee could influence roll, pitch and thrust, but not yaw.