Wasp-Inspired Robots Can Lift 40 Times Their Weight

Scientists have developed small flying robots that carry objects up to 40 times their weight and can even open closed doors, making them useful for search and rescue operations. Air Micro-Vehicles, called FlyCroTugs, can be anchored to various surfaces with adhesives inspired by gecko and insect feet.

These attachment mechanisms allow FlyCroTugs to hold objects up to 40 times their weight, such as doorknobs in a scenario or cameras and water bottles in case of rescue.

"The combination of the aerodynamic forces of our aircraft and the interaction forces generated with the attachment mechanisms has led to something very mobile, very powerful and very micro",

said the student Matthew Estrada. graduated from Stanford University in the United States.

The researchers explain that the small size of the FlyCroTugs allows them to navigate in confined spaces and close enough to humans, making them useful for search and rescue.

"The wasps can fly quickly to a piece of food, and if it's too heavy to lift, they'll pull it to the ground, so that's kind of an inspiration to our approach."

said Mark Cutkosky. from Stanford University.

They also followed the example of the wasp by suggesting different mounting options, depending on where the FlyCroTugs land. For smooth surfaces, robots use gecko tweezers, non-sticky adhesives, that mimic the complex structures of the gecko's toes and hold them together by generating intermolecular forces between the adhesive and the surface.

For rough surfaces, these robots are equipped with 32 microspines, a series of hook-shaped metal spikes that can be placed individually on small depressions on a surface.

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