Engineers and designers are finding all kinds of fascinating uses for robotic drones.
Some of the most promising ideas could send drones into environments or situations where humans can’t go, or can’t safely go.
But as anyone who’s watched fail videos online knows, drones can get damaged.
What if there was a workaround that would keep impaired robotic crafts flying around?
A team at MIT has found one, and it was inspired by bees.
The researchers studied how bumblebees take wing damage when they clonk into flowers, which they do a lot as they forage.
But while all those floral collisions can’t feel good, the bees can still move through the air.
They wanted the drones to have bee-like resilience if they took on damage.
Part of this involved re-designing the robots so that a critical failure caused, say, by a spark wouldn’t shut the whole system down.
The new drones were built in a way so that a broken electrode could be isolated and essentially bypassed.
It’s sort of like how new strings of holiday lights can just work around a broken bulb instead of going completely out with one malfunctioning light in the chain.
For larger issues, they came up with a process involving lasers that would more or less cut away the damaged area and allow the rest to continue working.
To test all this, the researchers started, well, damaging their own robots.
They poked holes in the wings, burned holes in the drones and even cut off some of the wing tips.
But thanks to the design changes, they were able to keep flying even when previous models would have shut down altogether.
The team is now teaching the crafts to do more complicated maneuvers that they couldn’t do up to this point because of the high risk of getting wrecked along the way.
So in a way, they’re turning the tiny drones into mini daredevils.
Today in 1958, the release of the Johnny Mathis album “Johnny’s Greatest Hits.”
It was the first ever greatest hits album, and an idea from his producer, Mitch Miller.
The thing was, Johnny Mathis had only been recording for like two years at that point.
But, just as the name of the album suggests, it was a hit.
Photo via MIT