The RoboBee is the world’s first insect-scale flying robot. Weighing 80 milligrams (approximately the weight of a honeybee) with a wingspan of little more than 1 inch (3 cm), the RoboBee was designed by researchers at Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The team wanted to create a robotic bee colony that replicated the unique interactions of thousands of bees, a response to the alarming collapse of bee colonies worldwide in recent years. Facing the challenge of producing minuscule mechanical devices, researchers looked to the process of manufacturing pop-up books. To build individual bees, sheets of laser-cut materials are sandwiched together into a thin, flat plate that folds up like a pop-up book into the complete electromechanical structure. Swarms of RoboBees could not only have the capacity to artificially pollinate crops, but also participate in search-and-rescue missions, act as environmental sensors, or conduct covert surveillance.
RoboBee was included in the Rebeca Méndez Selects and Tools: Extending Our Reach exhibitions.