Engineers at Duke University have developed a robot dragonfly Designed to penetrate across the surface of the water and interact with environmental conditions.
The robot dragonfly is called DraBot, and it is completely devoid of electronics and reacts to environmental conditions, such as: pH, temperature, or the presence of oil.
The researchers believe that the current experimental robot dragonfly could be a precursor to a more advanced, environmentally autonomous long-range robot capable of monitoring a host of problems.
And the researchers began on The project By designing a soft robot based on the fly, the researchers settled after several models in the shape of an engineered dragonfly, with a network of small internal channels that allow it to be controlled by air pressure.
The length of the robot’s body is about 2.25 inches, and its wingspan is 1.4 inches. The body of the robot is constructed by pouring silicon into an aluminum mold.
The internal channels were constructed using soft lithography and were connected to flexible silicone tubes.
The researchers faced a challenge by getting the DraBot to respond to air pressure control over long distances using autonomous actuators without any electronics.
DraBot works by controlling the pressure of the air entering its wings. A small duct compresses the air in the front wings, as the air escapes through a series of holes directed at the rear wings.
And when the rear wings are lowered, the airflow is blocked, the DraBot remains stationary, and when both wings are raised, the DraBot moves forward.
The team also designed balloon triggers under each rear wing close to the robot’s body, and when inflated, the balloons cause the wings to move upwards, allowing the controllers to tell the robot where to turn.
The wings are coated with a self-healing hydrogel, which makes them respond to changes in the pH of the water.
When the water is acidic, one of the front wings and the rear wing fuse, causing the robot to spin in a circle instead of in a straight line.
When the pH returns to normal, the molten wings separate, and the robot responds to commands.
The researchers also placed a sponge across the robot that absorbs oil and changes its color, indicating its presence, and the DraBot’s wings also change from red to yellow if the water is too warm.