Researchers from leading universities in the United States and China have unveiled new drones the size of a bumblebee. They can withstand blows to their body.
Researchers at Harvard, MIT and the City University of Hong Kong have developed small insect-like drones. These devices can not only maneuver in very tight spaces, but also withstand impacts to their body. They themselves activate the defense system and open their wings, which take on attacks.
Previously, UAV manufacturers willing to take this small step have ditched powerful motors and lost efficiency in favor of ceramic-based piezoelectric rigid actuators. The new drones are based on soft drives made of rubber cylinders coated with carbon nanotubes. When voltage is applied to these nanotubes, they compress and stretch the rubber.
The researchers note that this combination is highly effective. These drones are “centimeter scale”, they can move even through small areas, perform tough maneuvers and survive some collisions without damage. They weigh as much as a bumblebee.
At this stage, there are many restrictions on their use. Insect-style drones are still tied to energy sources.