Scientists Believe In Fairies - Robot Ones Controlled By Light

Researchers at Tampere University in Finland have made fairies real - by creating a robot that flies and sparkles just like Peter Pan's pal Tinkerbell. For some time now, engineers have known how to use stimuli-responsive polymers to make small, soft-bodied robots that can walk, swim and jump. So far, no one has been able to make them fly. Until now that is. Hao Zeng, Academy Research Fellow and the leader of the University's Light Robots Group, and Jianfeng Yang, a doctoral researcher, have come up with a new design for their project called FAIRY – Flying Aero-robots based on Light Responsive Materials Assembly. They have developed a polymer-assembly robot that flies by wind and is controlled by light. Because of its high porosity (0.95) and lightweight (1.2 mg) structure, it can easily float in the air directed by the wind. It can also be powered and controlled by a light source, such as a laser beam or LED. The fairy can adapt manually to wind direction and force by changing its shape. The new robots aren't designed to bring Neverland to life, however. According to Zeng, there is potential for even more significant applications. The FAIRY project started in September 2021 and will last until August 2026. It is funded by the Academy of Finland.