Japanese researchers said Monday they had developed a "hummingbird robot" that can flutter around freely in mid-air with rapid wing movements.
The robot, a similar size to a real hummingbird, is equipped with a micro motor and four wings that can flap 30 times per second, said Hiroshi Liu, the researcher at Chiba University east of Tokyo.
"The next step is to make it hover to stay at one point in mid-air," Liu said, adding that he also plans to equip it with a micro camera by March 2011.
The robot, whose development cost has topped 200 million yen (2.1 million dollars), may be used to help rescue people trapped in destroyed buildings, search for criminals or even operate as a probe vehicle on Mars, he said. (more)
Meanwhile, over at ThinkGeek.com...The Black Stealth features 3-channels, allowing it to go up and down, rotate right and left and move forwards and backwards. Unlike most of the small 2-Channel copters on the market which are always moving forward with somewhat twitchy controls, the Black Stealth is a breath of fresh air. You can actually fly it where you want it to go, it's fairly rugged... and surprisingly it's probably the easiest to fly small copter we've ever taken to the office airspace. (more) (video)
FutureWatch... FleaBots!Tiny robots the size of a flea could one day be mass-produced, churned out in swarms and programmed for a variety of applications, such as surveillance, micromanufacturing, medicine, cleaning, and more... In the future, the researchers hope to move from building academic prototypes to manufacturing the robot on a commercial basis, which is necessary for overcoming some of the technical issues.
By mass-producing swarms of robots, the loss of some robotic units will be negligible in terms of cost, functionality, and time, yet still achieve a high level of performance. Currently, the researchers hope to find funding to reach these goals. (Ask Mr. Liu how he did it.) (more) (Future flea powder.)