'DEAnsect': Soft Robotic Insect Impervious to Fly Swatters

Researchers at EPFL  have created a soft robotic insect called "DEAnsect" that is propelled at 3-cm per second by artificial muscles. These muscles are made up of dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs), which propel DEAnsect forward via vibrations and enable it to be very light and quick. The team developed two versions of the robot. The first version is tethered using ultra-thin wires and is highly robust. It can be hit with a fly swatter or stepped on by a shoe without impacting its mobility. The second version is an untethered model that is fully wireless and autonomous. It weighs less than one gram and carries its battery and all electronic components on its back. DEAnsect is equipped with a microcontroller for a brain and photodiodes as eyes, allowing it to recognize black and white patterns and enabling the robot to follow any line drawn on the ground.

Read Tech Briefs' interview with lead researcher Herbert Shea.