Speed Reads


This flying robot is light enough to 'land on a leaf'

Drones are all the rage now, but can you imagine one the size of a bug?

Meet the RoboBee X-Wing, a new robot created by scientists at Harvard University. Standing under three inches tall, with a wingspan of less than two inches, this tiny machine flaps its little wings 170 times a second. It also runs on solar power, starting to fly whenever its solar cells are exposed to light. This makes it the lightest device ever to fly without being attached to an external power source, New Scientist reports.

Currently, it's not quite ready to be flying outdoors — it needs light three times as intense as sunlight, so it needs some improvements before it can embark on its first real expedition. But one day, the RoboBee might be used to monitor the environment, or get into spaces too small for people or other robots. At its size, it's even light enough to "land on a leaf," said Noah Jafferis, one of the RoboBee's creators.

You can read the study detailing the RoboBee X-Wing's capabilities at Nature, or watch it fly below. Shivani Ishwar