The race to create the smallest drone has hit a new milestone thanks to the pioneering work of a group of researchers at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. After years of work the group has finally unveiled video footage of what it calls the RoboBee.
Named as such because of its insectoid size and appearance, the RoboBee has two membrane-like wings that flap at 120 times per second, allowing it to hover and fly at low speeds. Because of the robot's extremely small size, the developers had to use strips of ceramic called piezoelectric actuators that expand and contract when an electric field is applied to get the robot to fly.
Explaining the process, Kevin Y. Ma, one of the developers, said, "Large robots can run on electromagnetic motors, but at this small scale you have to come up with an alternative…"
Of course, the first thing some might assume the RoboBee will be used for is drone spying, but the research group is actually hoping it can offer aid in search-and-rescue operations, crop pollination, and environmental monitoring. You can see the RoboBee in all of its tiny glory in the video below.