Harvard Robobee Untethered Flight
Harvard researchers have just unveiled RoboBee X-Wing, the first robotic bee capable of untethered flight, Measuring 5 centimeters long and weighing in at 259 milligrams, it’s powered by solar cells up top, while the bottom section has all of the drive electronics required to boost 200 volts needed to drive the actuators to flap the wings at 200 Hz. Its design may look a little strange, but that’s because the solar panels had to be kept out of the airflow of the wings, while keeping the center of mass where the wings are. Read more for a video and additional information.

“The reason for the solar cells is that the robot can’t lift the kind of battery that it would need to power its wings, so off-board power is necessary. And if you don’t want a tether that means some kind of wireless power. UW used a laser, but X-Wing makes due with the sun. Sort of. Three suns, actually, since one isn’t enough, and the researchers emulate that with some powerful lamps,” according to IEEE Spectrum.