about the episode
Researchers are increasingly able to make smart materials that respond to stimuli such as light, temperature or pressure. Now a group of scientists has made this substance fly.
They call it an artificial seed, but a robot with bushy wings that fit on the tip of a finger is probably more like a fairy.
The wings move in response to light. For example from a laser beam or a simple LED. The robot also weighs so little that it can float on air currents. By changing the shape of the wings along the way in response to the wind, they can travel great distances and change direction. It is also possible to land and take off.
Scientists now want to modify the design so that it reacts to sunlight and they can add sensors, GPS and molecules, for example. One application they’re considering: artificial insemination. The pollen-carrying robots on board move with the wind and can be adjusted to the trees and plants that need them.
But we’re not there yet. First, the robot must be reusable or degradable. And landing in a specific spot—essential if you have to get to a specific type of tree—isn’t exactly smooth sailing yet.
Read more about research: A fairy-like robot flying with the power of wind and light.
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