Japan's $2 million rescue robot is a hummingbird


A Japanese researcher called Hiroshi Liu has developed a robotic hummingbird, which, just a real one, can flutter freely in mid-air by rapidly moving its wings (up to n impressive 30 times per second). Liu, who works for Chiba University just outside Tokyo, says his hummingbird is powered by a small motor and has four wings. It can be remote-controlled through infrared.

The robo hummingbird can not only fly up and down but also in a figure of eight. Liu claims the little guy, who just weighs 2.6g, is more stable than a helicopter. It’s 10cm long, meaning it comes close to real hummingbirds in size and weight. According to his inventor, building micro robots is much harder than building large robots and requires specific knowledge not all robot makers have.

R&D costs stand at about $2 million so far, but those costs are likely to rise. By 2011, Liu plans to equip the robot with a micro camera. The main purpose of the hummingbird is to one day use it to rescue people in emergency situations (when a building has collapsed, for example) or to hunt down criminals.

Via Engadget and Der Spiegel [GER]