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  • Writer's pictureAngus Stewart

Stop droning on...

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have developed a drone weighing only 0.6g, which flaps its flexible wings at 500 times a second. These incredible insect-like devices are, like many pure science projects, without a direct application at the moment, but their incredible ability to withstand impact collision is bound to prove extremely useful.

MIT Assistant Professor Kevin Yufeng Chen led the project to build a drone that uses soft actuators rather than hard, fragile actuators.

"The soft actuators are made of thin rubber cylinders coated in carbon nanotubes," he explains.

"When voltage is applied to the carbon nanotubes, they produce an electrostatic force that squeezes and elongates the rubber cylinder. Repeated elongation and contraction causes the drone's wings to beat fast."

At the moment, the voltages required mean there is a wire tether used to power the device. However, future development will see on-board batteries powering these insect drones.

Watch the MIT video below for more information.


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