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Toyota Robotic Insect flies without batteries and only with wireless energy transmission

Engineers are constantly and actively working to develop ultralight aircraft, and in 2018 (1397), a team of scientists succeeded in creating a miniature fly called RoboFly, but the high weight of the batteries limited the flight time of these small drones.

Researchers at Toyota Central Research and Development Laboratory have now developed an insect-sized robot with shock-absorbing wings that can fly without batteries and only wirelessly transmit energy using electromagnetic waves.

This robotic insect weighs 1.8 grams and is the lightest flying robot in the world with a high frequency motor that can fly in the air like a real insect.

snapshot of the finished device

a) Made a robotic insect b) How an insect flutters its wings to fly c) A moment-by-moment demonstration of a robotic insect flying

Toyota Robotic Insect is equipped with an oscillating piezoelectric actuator powered by a 5 GHz bipolar antenna.

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The piezoelectric effect is the ability of certain materials and crystals to generate electrical energy due to mechanical pressure. Piezoelectric means electricity from pressure, which is derived from the Greek word meaning to compress.

Takashi Ozaki, the project’s lead researcher, said of the robot’s wing mechanism:

One of the key features of our robot is very efficient fluttering, which is achieved by using powerful single-crystal piezoelectric materials and cosmetics with two wings facing each other like two hands clapping; This design creates a power-to-weight ratio similar to that of living insects.

Photo of a flapping wing

a) Winging mode and operation of powerful single crystal piezoelectric material b) Use coefficient depending on the average lifting force c) Coefficient of use depending on power consumption d) Power consumption versus power consumption rise

The main problem for engineers to build miniature robots is the phenomenon of heat escape. To solve this problem, Ozaki and his colleagues have optimized the design of their robotic insect so that the heat-generating components are not close to each other.

In addition, instead of standard lithium polymer batteries, the researchers used a radio frequency energy receiver with the same mass, which greatly improved the performance and operating time of the flying robot.

Ozaki said in this regard:

Our most important finding is that this robot can receive more than 1 watt of power through radio frequency waves. During the experiments, the robotic insect was able to slowly lift itself off the ground without a battery or a wire attached to it.

Electronics and energy conversion system

Electronic system and energy conversion system of flying robot

Earlier, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands had demonstrated a robot called the Nimble, which had four wings and could fly with the agility of a living insect.


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