"Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) flying insect robots"

The primary center for the micro flying robot work is the University of California at Berkeley, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Robotics and Intelligent Machines Laboratory, whose "Areas of Research" include the "Micro-Robotics" & "Micromechanical Flying Insect" projects, headed by Professor Ron Fearing. The Lab's Manager is San Francisco Robotics Society of America member Winthrop Williams. 

University of California at Berkeley, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Robotics and Intelligent Machines Laboratory

Winthrop Williams UC Berkekey Open House "Cal Day" Lecture listing (where it reads "Telerobotic Surgery.")

Excerpts from the websites:

"How Spy Flies Will Work"

"Our country is at war in an unfamiliar territory, and a battle is about to begin...However, the enemy doesn't know that its every move is being monitored by robotic insects equipped with tiny cameras, flying overhead...called micro air vehicles (MAVs)...dime-sized flying robots...The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding several research teams to develop MAVs...One class of...MAVs...is designed to mimic the flying motions of...flies, bees and dragonflies...the Micromechanical Flying Insect (MFI) Project...is proposing a robotic insect that is about 10 to 25 millimeters (0.39 to 0.98 inches) in width...There are at least two DARPA-funded MAV projects...the micromechanical flying insect at Berkeley...(&)...the Georgia Institute of Technology...Entomopter...also called a multimodal electromechanical insect...designed for possible indoor operations...to navigate hallways and ventilation systems and crawl under doors..."

"Fly on the Wall...it's likely...the first use of these robotic bugs will be as spy flies. DARPA envisions a spy fly...for reconnaissance missions...controlled by soldiers on the ground...(to)...relay images of troop movements...(&)...detect biological, chemical or nuclear weapons. Additionally, the robotic insect would...land on an enemy vehicle and place an electronic tag on it...Researchers say...these tiny flying robots would be valuable in the aftermath of...disasters...Their small size and ability to fly and hover make them useful for searching for people buried in rubble. They could fly between crevices that humans and larger machines are unable to navigate. Other uses include traffic monitoring, border surveillance...Spy flies are yet another example of how technology is aiding humans in performing dangerous tasks, allowing the humans to stay out of harm's way. Military reconnaissance, searching...victims...are all hazardous activities -- flying microrobots...allow us to accomplish these tasks without actually being there". 

...from Howstuffworks "How Spy Flies Will Work"

Micromechanical Flying Insect (MFI) Project 
Reciprocating Chemical Muscle [RCM]-Driven Multimode Entomopter

Popular Mechanics: "Micro Warfare...Small, smart and deadly, micro air vehicles swarm onto the battlefield". 

"Ron Fearing has...a stubby-winged mechanical bug....the University of California at Berkeley biologist...(says)... “Flies...are the jet fighters of the animal world.” The Pentagon shares this opinion...The Berkeley team is...exploring...micro air vehicles (MAVs). By merging the aerodynamics of insects with GPS navigation and molecular electronics, they hope to initially create an arsenal of tiny reconnaissance tools. When perfected, Fearing’s stainless steel and Mylar robot flies will be able to flap their way into the most secret places on Earth—the bunkers where Saddam Hussein plans his genocidal campaigns..."

"Alan H. Epstein, of MIT...envisions GPS-guided MAVs landing on structurally critical points along bridges deep in enemy territory...some military strategists envision swarms of robot flies fluttering onto battlefields. Scout flies, equipped with miniature cameras, would do the work of reconnaissance teams by eavesdropping on tactical communications and sending back real-time video of enemy positions. Sniper flies would seek out field commanders, recognizing them by the iris patterns of their eyes...Getting instructions into MAVs...is straightforward. Infrared (IR) ports, like those on personal digital assistants, will allow MAVs to be programmed in the field. And, once in the battlefield, IR ports can be used to send coordinating instructions within a swarm...A major breakthrough that will make these systems even smaller was recently reported by chemists at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). They have coaxed ringlike groupings of rotaxane molecules to exhibit the on/off behavior of transistors. Industry experts who have examined this process say it has the potential to put the computing power of 10 Pentium processors in one-hundredth the space of one of these tiny chips. And, because rotaxane molecule transistors could be switched on and off using light, there would be no bulky wire interconnections needed. MAVs will someday carry the computing power of an F-22...The merger of Georgia Tech’s nanojets with UCLA’s molecular transistors might bring about a newer, even smaller and smarter class of robot warriors: nano-MAVs so small they could hide on the wings of real flies".

...from Popular Mechanics: Micro Warfare 

"Toward a New Dimension in Flight"

"The small speck in the sky approaches in virtual silence, unnoticed by the large gathering of soldiers below. In flight, its tiny size and considerable agility evade...recognition. After hovering for a few short seconds, it perches on a fifth floor window sill, observing the flow of men and machines on the streets below. Several kilometers away, the platoon leader watches the action on his wrist monitor. He sees his target and sends the signal. The tiny craft swoops down on the vehicle, alighting momentarily on the roof. It senses the trace of a suspected chemical agent and deploys a small tagging device, attaching it to the vehicle. Just seconds later it is back in the sky, vanishing down a narrow alley. Mission accomplished..."

...from Micro Air Vehicles - Toward a New Dimension in Flight 


"...roboflies could be used to search for survivors...as a "stealth flyer," military uses...(include)...Agent fly...ordered out on reconnaissance missions...Squads of roboflies could be sent to search out targets, collect and provide information on damage assessment, search for chemical and biological warfare agents, or track the source of chemical plumes."

...from Wired: Look, Up in the Sky: Robofly 

"Flying into the Future"

"Miniature flying machines could help with warfare, agriculture and more..."
Reciprocating Chemical Muscle [RCM]-Driven Multimode Entomopter


Flapping Wing Propulsion