Harvard University engineers have come up with a novel new approach to fabricating their micro robotic bees. The Harvard Monolithic Bee (or Mobee) is a bio-inspired robot, approximately on the scale of an actual bee, that can fly and work autonomously. Research with the bees, however, was stalled by the painstaking effort involved in creating each robot.
Harvard researcher Pratheev Sreetharan describes the previous method of assembling the bees: “You’d take a very fine tungsten wire and dip it in a little bit of superglue. Then, with that tiny ball of glue, you’d go in under a microscope like an arthroscopic surgeon and try to stick it in the right place.” Sounds a little tedious.
But researchers have now developed a technique of fabrication that involves simply stamping out the mini-bees on a multilayer sheet, allowing the bees to be mass-produced in a fraction of the time. The sheet is comprised of 18 different layers, including circuit boards, plastic, adhesive, and carbon fibers. The outline of the bee is laser cut, and then pins then push the skeleton of the bee up, much like a pop-up book. The sheet functions both to form the bee itself and as the scaffolding supporting the bee.
The bee is dunked into liquid solder to secure the wee joints. The scaffolding is then removed, producing a beautiful little robot.
This new technology could be a game-changer for streamlining the production of micro robots.