Robotic Fireflies Light  Their Wings

Up with Every Flap of

Engineers at MIT

 have added a new ability to existing flying robots – they can now glow when they flap their wings.

Inspired by fireflies,

this fluorescence could help with communication or tracking of the tiny, lightweight robots.

The new work builds on

the team’s previous developments with ultra-light flying robots that are fairly durable for their scale

When a voltage is applied,

the carbon electrodes squeeze the elastomer, which produces a mechanical strain that flaps the wing.

These actuators light up

when they’re working. This is done by incorporating zinc sulphate particles into the outermost elastomer layer. 

The glow was added at

little cost to the robot, requiring just three percent more energy and adding 2.5 percent more weight overall.

Scientists Discover 

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