What It Is: Microfly, a robotic fly that weighs less than a paper clip.
How It Works: Electric current running through ceramic strips make the wings flap and rotate at 150 beats per second.
Time Line: The project started in 1998. Microfly now flies on a tether. It is expected to make its first solo flight next year and fly a real spy mission in 10 years.
Applications: Equipped with tiny sensors, it would be the world’s tiniest military spy. Commercial apps include home security.
Funding: A $2.5 million grant ends in mid-2003.
Intellectual Property: A disclosure with the U.C. Berkeley Office of Technology Licensing has been filed on the fabrication technology for the Microfly skeleton. U.C. Berkeley Prof. and Microfly inventor Ron Fearing plans to make his research available to the public.
Spinoff Technology: Rapid prototyping of micro-machines using folding technology developed by Fearing’s team. Potential applications include medical devices and other precision mechanisms between 1mm and 10mm.
Competition: Nothing that competes directly. Indirect competition from other kinds of surveillance technology.
Contact Info: Fearing can be reached via email at ronf@robotics.EECS.Berkeley.edu.