Having already broken new ground in robotics with the development, last year, of a class of “soft”, silicone-based robots based on creatures like squid and octopi, Harvard scientists are now working to create systems that would allow the robots to camouflage themselves, or stand out in their environment.
Robots by the dozen are prohibitively expensive, so actually testing how large swarms would work together is often limited to computer simulations. That’s where Harvard’s Kilobots are beginning to bear fruit – at a cost of US$14 each in batches of a thousand, they’re a tenth the cost of their cheapest competitor. At such bargain-basement prices, Michael Rubenstein, Christian Ahler, and Radhika Nagpal at the Self-Organizing Systems Research Group have begun to build their own little robot army.
The Harvard Monolithic Bee is a millimeter-scale flapping wing robotic insect produced using Printed Circuit MEMS (PC-MEMS) techniques. This video describes the manufacturing process, including pop-up book inspired assembly. This work was funded by the NSF, the Wyss Institute, and the ASEE.