Most robotic insects would be out of commission if they were flattened by a fly swatter, but not this one. EPFL researchers have created an ultra-light soft robotic insect that boasts soft artificial muscles to move at 3cm per second across various terrain, and can be folded or crushed, yet remain functional. Read more for a video and additional information.
Two versions of this soft robot were developed, both called “DEAnsect”. The first is tethered with ultra-thin wires and can survive being folded, hit with a fly swatter or squashed by a shoe. Another untethered model is completely wireless and autonomous, while weighing less than 1g, complete with its battery as well as all electronic components on its back. Both are equipped with a microcontroller-powered brain and photodiodes for eyes, thus allowing it to follow any line drawn on the ground.
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Most of the robotics insects developed so far have rigid bodies and motors. DEAnsect is the first example of an untethered robotic insect powered by soft artificial muscles. This allows DEAnsect to physically interact with the environment and with other robots without being damaged. Interaction is an essential component of the collective intelligence observed in swarms of ants or termites,” said the research team.