1. What is up with the Space Force?
  2. Nat Geo Unveils Earth’s Natural Magic in ‘Yellowstone Live’
  3. 3M Creates State of Science Index Survey, Interview with 3M Corporate Scientist and Chief Science Advocate
  4. A New AI Algorithm Can Track Your Movements Through Walls
  5. See This Underwater Drone Capture Life Under the Sea
  6. Buying a Home in a Rising Interest Rate Environment
  7. Can A Fleet Of Tiny Flying Insects Change The World?
  8. This VR Exhibit Lets You Land On Mars
  9. Johnny Galecki’s ‘SciJinks’ Premieres On May 16 On Science Channel
  10. National Geographic Launches Open Explorer For Citizen Scientists
  11. A New Space Race to the Moon Has Begun
  12. This Heat Map Shows 8.7 Billion Strokes of Lightning
  13. The Ultimate Travel Bucket List for 2018 (and beyond)
  14. Watch the First Instagram Live with the International Space Station
  15. The International Space Station Gets A New Zero Gravity Printer
  16. Discovery Channel Uncovers Lost Treasures of Egypt
  17. Adam Savage Let’s Kids Show Off Their Mad Science Skills In Mythbusters Jr.
  18. Engineers Create A Tiny Wireless Injectable Biosensor
  19. Cruising Out of San Juan, Puerto Rico
  20. Watch: Time Lapse Camera Captures Construction of Rancho Mirage Observatory
  21. A Robotic Fish Uses A Nintendo Controller To Swim With A School Of Real Fish
  22. Water Could Shield Mars Bound Astronauts And Colonists From Harmful Radiation
  23. Interview With A Genius About National Geographic’s ‘Genius’
  24. Interview With Humans on Mars Advocate and Consultant to the Mars TV Series
  25. Is a self aware robot like Chappie possible? Yes, and soon, says scientist.
  26. Are We All Cyborgs? Interview with Futurist Jason Silva on ‘RoboCop’
  27. Mindfulness Meditation and OCD Interview with Steve Volk on Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz
  28. Interview with NASA Astronaut on ‘Gravity’ and the Dangers of Spacewalking
  29. Neuroscientist Discusses Consciousness Transfer and the Movie ‘Self/less’
Sunday, November 18, 2018
  1. What is up with the Space Force?
  2. Nat Geo Unveils Earth’s Natural Magic in ‘Yellowstone Live’
  3. 3M Creates State of Science Index Survey, Interview with 3M Corporate Scientist and Chief Science Advocate
  4. A New AI Algorithm Can Track Your Movements Through Walls
  5. See This Underwater Drone Capture Life Under the Sea
  6. Buying a Home in a Rising Interest Rate Environment
  7. Can A Fleet Of Tiny Flying Insects Change The World?
  8. This VR Exhibit Lets You Land On Mars
  9. Johnny Galecki’s ‘SciJinks’ Premieres On May 16 On Science Channel
  10. National Geographic Launches Open Explorer For Citizen Scientists
  11. A New Space Race to the Moon Has Begun
  12. This Heat Map Shows 8.7 Billion Strokes of Lightning
  13. The Ultimate Travel Bucket List for 2018 (and beyond)
  14. Watch the First Instagram Live with the International Space Station
  15. The International Space Station Gets A New Zero Gravity Printer
  16. Discovery Channel Uncovers Lost Treasures of Egypt
  17. Adam Savage Let’s Kids Show Off Their Mad Science Skills In Mythbusters Jr.
  18. Engineers Create A Tiny Wireless Injectable Biosensor
  19. Cruising Out of San Juan, Puerto Rico
  20. Watch: Time Lapse Camera Captures Construction of Rancho Mirage Observatory
  21. A Robotic Fish Uses A Nintendo Controller To Swim With A School Of Real Fish
  22. Water Could Shield Mars Bound Astronauts And Colonists From Harmful Radiation
  23. Interview With A Genius About National Geographic’s ‘Genius’
  24. Interview With Humans on Mars Advocate and Consultant to the Mars TV Series
  25. Is a self aware robot like Chappie possible? Yes, and soon, says scientist.
  26. Are We All Cyborgs? Interview with Futurist Jason Silva on ‘RoboCop’
  27. Mindfulness Meditation and OCD Interview with Steve Volk on Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz
  28. Interview with NASA Astronaut on ‘Gravity’ and the Dangers of Spacewalking
  29. Neuroscientist Discusses Consciousness Transfer and the Movie ‘Self/less’
Can A Fleet Of Tiny Flying Insects Change The World?

What if you could send in a fleet of tiny robotic insects that could survey crops or sniff out gas leaks and dangerous chemical spills?

That future might not be so far away. Engineers from the University of Washington have created a robotic flying insect called the RoboFly that can flap its own wings, take off and land untethered.

RoboFly is slightly heavier than a toothpick and has a small brain which is actually a microcontroller inside of a small circuit on its body. In order to power up the flying insect, the engineers placed a small photovoltaic cell above RoboFly’s body. When they point the laser beam at the cell, it gives off seven volts of power that get the wings moving.

“The microcontroller acts like a real fly’s brain telling wing muscles when to fire,” said co-author Vikram Iyer, a doctoral student at the UW Department of Electrical Engineering. “On RoboFly, it tells the wings things like ‘flap hard now’ or ‘don’t flap.'”

“It uses pulses to shape the wave,” said Johannes James, the lead author, and mechanical engineering doctoral student. “To make the wings flap forward swiftly, it sends a series of pulses in rapid succession and then slows the pulsing down as you get near the top of the wave. And then it does this in reverse to make the wings flap smoothly in the other direction.”

The laser alone doesn’t provide enough voltage to move the wings, so the team designed a circuit that boosted the seven volts coming out of the photovoltaic cell up to the 240 volts needed for flight. While RoboFly is currently powered by a laser beam, future versions could use tiny batteries or harvest energy from radio frequency signals, researchers say. This would let their power source be modified for specific tasks.

Another co-author of the paper, Shyam Gollakota, an associate professor in the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering said he would like to make a Robofly that finds methane leaks

“You could buy a suitcase full of them, open it up, and they would fly around your building looking for plumes of gas coming out of leaky pipes,” said Gollakota. “If these robots can make it easy to find leaks, they will be much more likely to be patched up, which will reduce greenhouse emissions.”

“This is inspired by real flies, which are really good at flying around looking for smelly things. So we think this is a good application for our RoboFly,” added Gollakota.

Jennifer Kite-Powell
Jennifer is an author and human tech contributor at Forbes and Modern American News covering the intersection of science and technology with art, health, environment, culture and agriculture. She's a frequent moderator of creative, AI and VR/AR panels at events and festivals worldwide and is a frequent guest on 938Now's Tech Scares. Her first book, Love, Lust, Longing and Truth was published in 2017.

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