The folks out at Chiba University have developed a new kind of robot that they believe will be highly useful for rescue operations due to its incredibly compact size.
Dubbed the Hummingbird Robot, Chiba staffers believe that the tiny robot, featuring four wings that flap an astonishing thirty times per second, a miniature motor to drive the furious flapping, and a control scheme that involves infrared sensors, will be useful as a rescue device once a pair of tiny micro-cameras are mounted to its superstructure sometime around 2011.
Some question the value of a rescue device controlled by infrared signals, which need a clear line of sight between the device and the controller to function. Others make some dark noises about the robot’s value as a tool in domestic spying–after all, who hears a hummingbird coming?–and still others look askance at the Chiba University design, remembering a strikingly similar design that came out of TU Delft in the Netherlands back in 2006.
Hopefully Chiba University will address some of these issues in the final version.