By Victoria Bell For Mailonline
Published: 09:29 BST, 27 June 2019 | Updated: 10:19 BST, 27 June 2019
A lightweight insect robot has been created which is capable of flying without being tethered to a power source, by using energy from light.
Incredible footage reveals the solar-powered RoboBee X-Wing which uses four wings which flap at a rate of 170 times per second to fly, instead of a propeller.
Developed by a team from Harvard University, the robot has a wingspan of 1.4 inches (3.5 centimetres) and could be used to monitor the environment.
Weighing only 259 milligrams, the insect is light enough to land on leaves and tiny enough to manoeuvre through small spaces.
Wings are far superior to propellers, but scientists have struggled to replicate the natural control that insects and birds.
The solar cells are connected to an electronics panel under the bee, which converts the low voltage signals of the solar array into high voltage drive signals needed to control the actuators.
The solar cells sit about three centimeters above the wings, to avoid interference.
In all, the final vehicle, with the solar cells and electronics, weights 259 milligrams (about a quarter of a paper clip) and uses about 120 milliwatts of power, which is less power than it would take to light a single bulb on a string of LED Christmas lights
Noah Jafferis and his colleagues suggest that if they can make wings work, the flying robots will be more agile and quieter than any other man-made machine.
RoboBee uses solar panels situated over its wings to collect its own power, removing the need for an external power source.
Its wings are controlled by two muscle-like plates that contract when voltage passes through the
The six tiny solar cells weigh only 10 milligrams each and are located above the wings so as not to interfere with flight.
However, the panels require an intense amount of light to power up, three times the strength of sunlight, which means outdoor flight is impossible at the moment.
RoboBee normally flies for around half a second before it