MIT's tiny insect drone looks like a cassette tape with wings but can bounce back from mid-air collisions


MIT researchers have developed a tiny drone with soft actuators that can flap nearly 500 times per second, allowing it to be more resilient to mid-flight bumps and nimble enough to fly like a bee. MIT Assistant Professor Kevin Yufeng Chen led the project to build an insect-like drone that uses soft actuators rather than hard, fragile actuators. "The soft actuators are made of thin rubber cylinders coated in carbon nanotubes," explains MIT. "When voltage is applied to the carbon nanotubes, they produce an electrostatic force that squeezes and elongates the rubber cylinder. Repeated elongation and contraction causes the drone's wings to beat fast."

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