Those Harvard boys are at it again, this time creating the world's first robotic fly that actually took flight for the first time. This sophisticated machine is made of tiny laser-cut pieces of carbon fiber, parts so small they're nearly invisible and molded to outlandishly tight tolerances of within 2 micrometers. There have been other attempts at building robotic insects, but this tiny bot-bug is the size of a horsefly with a wingspan of just over an inch, and uses the same flight technique as those everyday, filthy varmints flying around your garbage can.
Its first flight reminds us a bit of the Wright Brothers' first flight, but it was even more primitive because it's not capable of being controlled yet. It just takes off on a two-wired tether that keeps it straight and level and moving in an upward trajectory. But hey, it's still flying.
However, it looks like those Harvard eggheads have a way to go before they can remotely control such a minuscule micro-mecha, fulfilling their aspirations of using this insect bot for spying, spying and, oh yeah, there's more spying. Says project leader Robert Wood:
"You probably wouldn't notice a fly in the room, but you certainly would notice a hawk."
There's also talk of using the little houseflies to sniff out toxic chemicals and such. We can't wait to see these babies outfitted with HDTV cameras and transmitters. That might be a while. [Technology Review]