Robofly has lost its tethers. The world’s smallest drone has at last flown free, soaring above a US laboratory after its creators managed to slip the surly bonds of electric wires. And they have done so thanks to laser power.
One of the goals of robotics is to develop insect-sized drones that could work in swarms to, for instance, monitor crops, search for chemical leaks or even recreate some real insect roles such as pollination.
The main limitation of producing such tiny robots is power. Batteries are currently too heavy. The smallest on the market is 350mg, about twice the weight of an insect.