TOKYO Seiko Epson Corp. has developed a micro robot weighing just 8.9 grams that can fly. The company demonstrated the robot at the 2003 International Robot Exhibition being held Nov. 19-22.
The prototype shown at the exhibition worked off a 3.5V DC power supply wired to it. "There is a 3-grams battery available, but we are looking for lighter, more powerful ones to make the flying robot unwired," said an Epson engineer. The robot has a lifting power of 13 grams, providing surplus lifting power for an additional battery.
The "Micro Flying Robot" gains levitation by the application of two contra-rotating propellers powered by four 7x2x1-mm sized ultrasonic motors. The motors were originally developed for wristwatches. The motors gain thrust and their power is converted to a rotating motion for the propellers. The robot operates at 300 kHz and generates power of 1W per gram. Epson claims this to be the world's highest power-weight ratio.
Epson developed the robot to demonstrate its homegrown micromechatronics technology. The robot consists of a 2.5 gram control module with two CPUs; a 1.3-gram Bluetooth module; a 1.3-gram sensor unit with a gyro-sensor, an accelerometer and an image sensor; and a 5.1-gram mechanical unit including two contra-rotating propellers, four ultrasonic mortars, a stabilizer and a posture control unit.
Epson engineers' goal is to have the robot capture images in midair once it becomes unwired.