Researchers copied nature to build sensors to enable a tiny robotic fly to stay in the air without tumbling.
Controlled flight at this small scale has previously required external cameras to provide feedback to regulate the continuous corrective manoeuvres to keep the unstable robot from falling.
One stabilisation mechanism used by flying insects may be to sense the horizon or sun using the ocelli, a set of three light sensors distinct from the compound eyes.
Robotics researcher Sawyer B. Fuller of Harvard University and colleagues created an ocelli-inspired visual sensor to stabilise a fly-sized robot.
“This constitutes the first known use of onboard sensors at this scale,” the researchers write.
The research is reported in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Here are the sensors:
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