This remarkable new robot was inspired by dandelion seeds and requires only a light source to power it up.
It won’t be giving Tinkerbell a run for her money anytime soon, but this impressive new robot – known as FAIRY (Flying Aero-robots based on Light Responsive Materials Assembly) – is undeniably unique and could give rise to a whole new category of lightweight flying devices.
Inspired by the way dandelion seeds float on the breeze, the robot is made up of tiny 14-micron-thick filaments which are connected to a light-activated actuator.
When light is shone on the device, the filaments move, enabling a range of configurations.
Once its bristles are deployed in a certain way, it can fly into the air using only the wind.
Its designers hope that it could one day help to mitigate the loss of pollinator insects such as bees.
“The FAIRY can be powered and controlled by a light source, such as a laser beam or LED,” said Tampere University roboticist Hao Zeng.
“It sounds like science fiction, but the proof-of-concept experiments included in our research show that the robot we have developed provides an important step towards realistic applications suitable for artificial pollination.”