Aerospace Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series

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Robert J. Wood of Harvard University will present a lecture on "Progress on Flapping-wing Robotic Insects" as part of the Aerospace Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series.

As the characteristic size of a flying robot decreases, the challenges for successful flight revert to basic questions of fabrication, actuation, fluid mechanics, stabilization, and power - whereas such questions have in general been answered for larger aircraft. When developing a flying robot on the scale of a common housefly, all hardware must be developed from scratch, as there is nothing "off-the-shelf" which can be used for mechanisms, sensors, or computation that would satisfy the extreme mass and power limitations. This technology void also applies to techniques available for fabrication and assembly of the aeromechanical components: the scale and complexity of the mechanical features requires new ways to design and prototype at scales between macro and MEMS, but with rich topologies and material choices, one would expect in designing human-scale vehicles. With these challenges in mind, this talk will present progress in the essential technologies for insect-scale robots.

Robert Wood is an associate professor in Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Wood completed his master's (2001) and PhD (2004) degrees working with Professor Ron Fearing in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at U. C. Berkeley. He is founder of the Harvard Microrobotics Lab, which contains facilities for rapid development and evaluation of robots with feature sizes on the micron to centimeter scale. His current research interests involve the creation of biologically inspired aerial and ambulatory microrobots, fluid mechanics of low Reynolds number flapping wings, minimal control of under-actuated computation-limited systems, new micro- and meso-scale manufacturing techniques, and morphable soft-bodied robots. He is the winner of a 2007 DARPA Young Faculty Award, a 2008 NSF Career Award, a 2008 ONR Young Investigator Award, a 2009 Air Force Young Investigator Award, multiple best paper and best video awards, is a member of the 2008 class of Technology Review’s top 35 innovators under the age of 35, and in 2010 received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama. Wood has served as PI or co-PI on twenty sponsored research projects over the past four years including the $10M NSF-sponsored Expeditions in Computing "RoboBees" project that he is leading.



  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Amelia Pavlik
  • Created:11/01/2011
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016