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Scientists create incredible light-powered 'fairy' robot

By T.K. Randall
February 2, 2023 · Comment icon 6 comments

Could robots like this one day replace bees ? Image Credit: Jianfeng Yang / Tampere University
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."

Source: Science Alert | Comments (6)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Orphalesion 1 year ago
Maybe those can take over pollination duty when human induced climate change and habitat loss have killed off all the bees and butterflies.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Splendor Solis 1 year ago
I'm not one of these paranoid crackpots, but they say
Comment icon #3 Posted by Jon the frog 1 year ago
Not moving just because of air convection induce by heating with the light?
Comment icon #4 Posted by Chortle 1 year ago
I always assumed flying requires generating lift? This was somewhat underwhelming.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Crabby Kitten 1 year ago
It might just be the photography but that robot looks very pretty and fairylike.
Comment icon #6 Posted by ExoPaul 1 year ago
The whole SAVE THE BEES is actually inaccurate. Bees are the biggest pollinator in terms of how much pollen per bee, but 40% of all pollen is actually spread by flies. Flies may not carry as much pollen as a bee, but they are far more resilient, reproduce far quicker and in much greater numbers and are not affected by as many man-made issues such as pesticides that kill bees. So while we should try and save bees, as they do provide a service and should be supported. It wouldn't be the end of the world scenario if they all died out, especially as flies can be engineered to carry more pollen if ... [More]

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