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Miniature Flybot Takes New Approach

Imagine the annoying maneuverability of a fruit fly, but applying it to search and rescue missions or military operations.

If you’ve ever tried to swat those pesky little fruit flies away from some fresh produce, you can attest to how annoyingly agile they can be. Now imagine taking that same agility, but applying it to search and rescue missions or military operations.

That’s the thought behind the DelFly robot created by researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Their quad-wing flapping robot has been able to display the same kind of movement as the animal from which it draws its inspiration.

The biggest difference, however, between the DelFly and other attempts at miniaturized, flying robots is that it doesn’t rely on a tail for stability. Rather, DelFly’s four wings let it control three axes of flight, meaning it can adjust its movements more rapidly and even perform a full 360-degree flip. The lack of tail actually adds to the bot’s flight control. 

Currently, it only houses enough power for five minutes of flight time, but it can carry a small camera and transmission components for sending live images. It can also cover more than a half-mile on a fully-charged battery.

Next steps will focus on designing a power source that can provide longer flight times without sacrificing agility. This could enable the use of these miniature flybots to go beyond the typical drone jobs and include automating tasks like pollinating plants in greenhouses.


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