The geniuses at Harvard university have struck again by producing a quarter sized Bee robot called the Monolithic Bee (MoBee). Harvard engineers working in the Micro Robotics lab have been trying to develop a bio inspired robot for a long time. The core objective was to develop a tiny robot that could be mass produced to simulate an entire colony of bees working autonomously.

It was only recently that they had a breakthrough due to a phenomenal fabricating process based on the principles of Origami, the Japanese art of folding paper into various shapes. The tiny robot is assembled on an “assembly scaffolding” joint to the machine through the use of hinges. The entire thing is made out of a sheet consisting of 18 different layers of metals such as carbon fiber, a plastic film called Kapton, titanium, brass, ceramic, and adhesive sheets. The complete structure is then manufactured like a printed circuit board.

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The main idea is to assemble the tiny-bot from the assembly scaffolding by folding different parts of the sheet through the use of pins and hinges that pop-up the 3D structure just like a pop-up book in one single movement. The desired effect is gained through the use of different kinds of folds, locks and release points in both the assembly and bot schematics, it takes less than a second for the 2.4mm robot to rise from its assembly system. Once the bot takes its 3D shape the whole shebang is dipped into a liquid solder that adheres to the tiny brass, locking the shape in position.

After the successful erection it is cut free from the scaffolding with the help of lasers. Thus the technique allows for mass production as the size of a single bee-bot is very small and many such bots can be cut out on single sheet through the use of lasers. Earlier the entire process had to be performed by hand which was painstakingly difficult and error prone. As Partheev Sreetharan said in a press release that it was an impossible task to assemble such an intricate design on micron level precision under the microscope with human hands.

Therefore, the new fabrication method has opened up unexampled gates for micro-electronics, optical equipment and other mass manufacturing processes that work with parts of millimetre to centimetre levels.

[via Harvard]