Dragonfly robot detects environmental conditions in the water
Dragonfly robot detects environmental conditions in the water

Engineers at Duke University have developed a dragonfly robot that sneaks across the surface and interacts with environmental conditions.

The dragonfly robot is called DraBot, has no electronic equipment and reacts to environmental conditions (such as pH value, temperature, or the presence of oil).

Researchers believe that the current experimental dragonfly robot could be a pioneer for more advanced, environmentally independent remote robots capable of monitoring a multitude of problems.

The researchers started the project by designing a soft robot based on flies. Then the researchers built several models in the form of artificial insects that have a small network of internal channels that can be controlled by air pressure.

The robot's body is approximately 2.25 inches long and has a wingspan of 1.4 inches. The robot body is made by pouring silicon into an aluminum mold.

The inner channel is constructed with soft lithography and connected with a flexible silicone tube.

The challenge for researchers is to get the DraBot to use stand-alone actuators without electronics to respond to air pressure regulation over long distances.

DraBot controls the air pressure entering the kite. When air escapes through a series of holes facing the rear baffle, a small duct compresses the air in the front baffle.

When the rear fenders were lowered, the airflow was blocked and the DraBot remained steady, and when both sources were raised, the DraBot moved forward.

The team also designed balloon actuators under each tail wing near the robot's body. When the balloon is inflated, the balloon moves its wings up so that the controller can tell the robot where to turn.

The wings are coated with a self-healing hydrogel, which allows them to respond to changes in the pH of the water.

When the water is acidic, one of the front wings fuses with the rear wings, causing the robot to spin rather than in a straight line.

When the pH returns to normal, the molten wings separate and the robot responds to commands.

The researchers also placed a sponge on the robot. The sponge picks up the oil and changes its color, which indicates its presence. If the water is too hot, the DraBot's wings also change from red to yellow.


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