MIT Robotic Lightning Bug Fireflies
MIT scientists have developed robotic lightning bugs that emit light when they fly. These miniature insect-like robots take cues from nature, as they are fabricated from electroluminescent soft artificial muscles capable of flying. Their tiny artificial muscles control the robots’ wings and emit colored light during flight.



In future versions, their electroluminescence could enable the robots to communicate with each other. When would this come in handy? When they are sent on search-and-rescue missions into a collapsed building, as any robot that finds survivors could use lights to signal others and call for help. For something larger that you can ride, there’s the Kawasaki RHP Bex, a robotic ibex that you can actually ride.

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MIT Robotic Lightning Bug Fireflies

If you think of large-scale robots, they can communicate using a lot of different tools — Bluetooth, wireless, all those sorts of things. But for a tiny, power-constrained robot, we are forced to think about new modes of communication. This is a major step toward flying these robots in outdoor environments where we don’t have a well-tuned, state-of-the-art motion tracking system,” said Kevin Chen, who is the D. Reid Weedon, Jr. Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).