Harvard researchers have spent the past five years developing a robotic bee. While it may never serve as a backup for whatever is wiping out colonies across the United States, it could serve as an inconspicuous alternative to spy drones. Particularly now that they’ve figured out how to steer the tiny winged bots during flight.
As is demonstrated in this high-speed video, the researchers haven’t quite refined the Robobee to the point where it can be controlled with the same finess as an RC helicopter. But thanks to the addition of tiny actuators located under its wings, after takeoff it can now pitch and roll in a pre-determined direction.
It’s a vast improvement over previous versions of the bot, which would just take off in random directions and immediately crash. Eventually, the researchers hope the Robobee could be released in swarms to efficiently pollenate a crop. But also serve as tiny drones for everything from search and rescue missions, to covert surveillance, to just keeping an eye on traffic conditions. [Robobees via Automaton]