The University of California, Berkeley's Biomimetics Millisystems Laboratory has designed several insect-emulating robots, including the Bipedal Ornithopter for Locomotion Transitioning (BOLT), which we featured in last year's robot bugs and worms slideshow. This flapping-wing robot, designed for indoor surveillance or search-and-rescue operations, has been improved so much it has a new name: the H2Bird ornithopter. Like the old version, the new version weighs only 13gm (0.45oz), and it carries a 2.8gm (0.09oz) payload. The airframe, tail rotor, and elevator are made from carbon fiber. Previously, the lab demonstrated the autonomous BOLT's ability to fly toward a target unassisted remotely using a closed-loop attitude regulator with onboard sensors and processors. Now, using computer vision, the lab has demonstrated H2Bird's cooperative target-seeking ability with a ground station. The ground station gives the H2Bird real-time heading estimates via a motion-tracking algorithm. Eventually, multiple H2Birds will cooperate in sensing and navigation tasks. (Source: University of California, Berkeley)
To me, the 2013 penny feels like it's made out of a different, lighter material. The first time I held one, I thought it was a fake. I couldn't find anything online, however, that indicates it's made of different material.
Deberah, I agree that mind-controlled robots is an interesting development in robotics. There are different research efforts underway; we covered one of them here: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=254726
mrdon, thank for the enthusiastic response. I think it's your second suggestion: those of us who've been reading science fiction for years while technology has been progressing to the point where we can actualize what we've been visualizing. I think this is true in robotics, in consumer electronics, and in film (Lord of the Rings, Avatar, e.g.).
Thanks for your feedback, bobjengr. It's comments like yours that inspire me to find even weirder, more talented robots :) No sarcasm implied, I really mean it. And yes, it's tough to keep up with all this: the pace of change is mind-boggling, and reminds me of several earlier, similar phases in Silicon Valley when enough brilliant minds and research dollars, plus the right levels of underlying enabling technologies converged to produce world-changing products. You know, like the iPhone and Web browsers.
Automakers are on the prowl for lighter weight materials to make vehicles less heavy and more fuel efficient, and Nanosteel is one of the companies hoping to take advantage of this opportunity with their lightweight automotive steel of the same name.
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