Drones are usually thought of as flying machines. Technically however, any machine that can be remotely piloted is a drone. But drones have typically been specialized machines that perform one function well.
Now, meet RoboBee, the all-rounder of the drone world.
As you can see, this drone can fly in the air, swim underwater and can make its own fuel for an exploding launch from the water surface. Inspired by insects and built by the white-coats at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, it’s a micro-drone only a few millimeters in size.
Making a small machine is challenging enough, but to build something that can move across different medium like air and water is even more so. This is because water is 1000 times denser than air, which means the drone requires different wing speeds to operate. RoboBee flaps its wings at a frequency of 220 to 300 hertz in air and nine to 13 hertz in water.
Wyss Institute Harvard University
And for a small machine, the RoboBee carries a lot of equipment on-board including gas chamber, electrolytic plates, sparker, and buoyant outriggers. Why gas chamber and electrolytic plates you ask? They are there to produce the hydrogen-oxygen fuel it requires to explode out of the water, just like rockets!
Not quite ready yet, but once perfected, the RoboBee concept can find application in search-and-rescue operations, environmental monitoring and biological studies.