This little guy might not look much, but he's the world's smallest flying robotic insect—and he's taken 12 years to get into the air.

While engineers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard have been able to get him to flap his wings for some time, they'd never managed controlled flight. But using piezoelectric actuators and a delicate control system, they've managed to give the coin-sized bug the precision it needs. Professor Robert J Wood explains:

"This is what I have been trying to do for literally the last 12 years. Now that we've got this unique platform, there are dozens of tests that we're starting to do, including more aggressive control maneuvers and landing."

Sadly, the robot still needs a tether to provide power, and it can't really cope with conditions like wind or rain—but the researchers want to fit it with lightweight batteries and more advanced software to sort that out. At which point, be very afraid of a swarm of them chasing after you. [Harvard via BBC]