Fly sized robot takes first flight!

World’s smallest robot, Robobee, has wingspan of three centimetres

The smallest flying robot in the world has completed its maiden flight in a US laboratory.

The tiny machine, named RoboBee, took off, hovered and performed basic manoeuvres, to the delight of scientists at Harvard University.

Inspired by the common fly, the carbon fibre robot has a wingspan of three centimetres and weighs less than a tenth of a gram.

Flies are among the most agile flying creatures on Earth. The robot mimics their airborne abilities by tweaking the movement of two wafer-thin wings that flap at 120 times a second.

More advanced versions of the robot may help with search and rescue missions, monitor the environment, and even assist with crop pollination, its developers claim.

“I want to create something the world has never seen before,” said Kevin Ma, a researcher on the team.

The robot’s two wings are powered separately by tiny pieces of ceramic piezoelectric material, which expand and contract rapidly when wired to an alternating voltage.

For the maiden flight, researchers attached tiny reflective patches to the robot that could be picked up by eight infrared cameras mounted around the room. The cameras worked out where the robot was, and in which direction it was facing, and sent the information to a controlling computer that sent movement commands to the machine over a wire tether. To move left, for example, the robot increased the stroke of its right wing.

The robot was hooked up to an electrical supply because there are no batteries small or light enough to be carried by the machine.

The scientists described how they built the robot in the US journal, Science. “No such vehicle has been demonstrated to date because of the severe miniaturisation challenges that must be overcome for an insect-sized device,” they wrote.

After the first tentative flight, the researchers aim to put the robot through its paces, with more aggressive maneuvers and landings.

Sign up for our free newsletter at: &

Learn the Secret to making Winning Trades: Winning Trades

Virgin Galactic Spaceship fly’s on it’s own for the first time

SpaceShipTwo Makes it’s First Powered Flight

ss2 1The spaceplane being developed by UK billionaire Sir Richard Branson has made its first powered flight.

The vehicle was dropped from a carrier aircraft high above California’s Mojave Desert and ignited its rocket engine to go supersonic for a few seconds.

Sir Richard’s intention is to use the spaceship to carry fare-paying passengers on short pleasure rides above the Earth’s atmosphere.

ss2-glideflight3His company Virgin Galactic has already taken hundreds of deposits.

The rocket vehicle is known as SpaceShipTwo (SS2).

Although it has been in the air on more than 20 occasions, this was the first time its hybrid motor had been ignited.

It was only a short burn lasting about 16 seconds, but it propelled SS2 beyond the sound barrier to a speed of Mach 1.2. Future outings should see progressively longer burn durations, enabling the plane eventually to reach sufficient velocity to climb more than 100km into the sky.

Space target

ss2 3.jpgMonday’s mission began at the Mojave Air and Space Port at just after 07:00 local time (14:00 GMT). Test pilots Mark Stucky and Mike Alsbury were reported to be at the controls of SS2.

It took off slung beneath the WhiteKnightTwo aircraft, which does the job of lifting the rocket plane to its launch altitude – some 45,000ft (14km).

ss2 4A little under an hour later, SpaceShipTwo was released, dropped a short distance to get clear of WhiteKnightTwo and then lit its engine, which burns a combination of a solid rubber compound and liquid nitrous oxide.

SpaceShipTwo ignites its engine in flight for the first time

After shutting down its motor, the vehicle then glided back to the Mojave runway, touching down just after 08:00 local time.

Sir Richard said in a statement: “For the first time, we were able to prove the key components of the system, fully integrated and in flight. Today’s supersonic success opens the way for a rapid expansion of the spaceship’s powered flight envelope, with a very realistic goal of full space flight by the year’s end.”

Family first

ss2 4.JPGThe entrepreneur is reluctant these days to say precisely when SpaceShipTwo will enter commercial service.

Projections for a start date issued in the early days of the project in the mid-2000s have long since passed as engineers have grappled with the complexities of developing the world’s first spaceliner.

The delay appears not to have dissuaded prospective passengers, however.

ss2 5More than 500 people, including celebrities such as physicist Stephen Hawking and former Dallas actress Victoria Principal, have put down a deposit for a ticket that will cost them about $200,000.

The initial service will be run out of a purpose built facility in the New Mexico desert known Spaceport America. Each flight will accommodate two pilots and six passengers.

Sir Richard says he will take his family on one of the first outings to demonstrate his faith in the vehicle’s safety.

Burgeoning enterprise

ss2 6.jpgThe rocket plane itself is a derivative of SpaceShipOne, which became the first private manned vehicle to fly to the edge of space and back in 2004.

It was the brainchild of aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, whose Mojave company, Scaled Composites, then designed the current prototype passenger version for Sir Richard.

The pair formed The Spaceship Company to manufacture future vehicles.

There are other companies hoping to offer sub-orbital flights in the near future.

XCOR Aerospace, which also has an operation in Mojave, is developing a smaller rocket plane called Lynx. This would carry one pilot and one ticketed passenger to 100km.

Neither it nor SS2 can achieve the speeds needed to go into orbit. more information:

Disclaimer/ Disclosure: The Investors News Magazine is a third party publisher of news and research as well as creates original content as a news source. Original content created by Investors News Magazine is protected by copyright laws other than syndication rights. Disclosure is posted on each release if required but otherwise the news was not compensated for and is published for the sole interest of our readers.