Engineers at Cornell University have developed a programming language that allows tiny robots to behave autonomously like real insects. For the study, the team used 80-milligram flying RoboBee developed by Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory and made use of neuromorphic computer chips – which can process spikes of electrical current that fire in complex combinations, similar to how neurons fire inside a brain – to power it.
The team is also developing event-based sensors and control algorithms, so the robot can avoid crashing, or in case it crashes, it survives and still can fly. As part of the project, RoboBee has already been outfitted with a number of vision, optical flow and motion sensors. The limitation is that the robot remains tethered to a power source, but researchers are working on to stamp out the restraint by developing new power source. The Cornell algorithms will allow RoboBee to become more autonomous and adaptable to complex environments without being burdened by bulky power sources.
“We’re using RoboBee as a benchmark robot because it’s so challenging, but we think other robots that are already untethered would greatly benefit from this development because they have the same issues in terms of power,” says Silvia Ferrari, who is the director of the Laboratory for Intelligent Systems and Controls.
Source: Cornell University