The Italian Almanac

robot fly

Robot Fly

Leonardo da Vinci's Renaissance designs have swarmed into Milan on the wings of a robot. The tiny electronic aircraft, modeled after the shape and movements of a real fly, weighs only 60 milligrams and has a wingspan of three centimetres, capable of rapid wing movement and taking flight according to da Vinci's 15th-century concepts on aerodynamics.

"Leonardo's da Vinci's dreams are coming true," said Alberto Isidori, the president of the International Federation of Automated Control (IFAC). For much of his life, the Tuscan polymath produced many studies on the phenomenon of flight, including plans for several flying machines such as a light hang glider and a machine resembling a helicopter. "This is the first concrete example of a wing-flap aircraft capable of mimicking the performance of a moving helicopter," said Isidori of the robot fly.

Harvard researcher Robert Wood designed the microbot which has received funding from the United States Department of Defense. American aerospace engineer David B. Doman, designed the flight mechanism.

Founded in 1957, IFAC is a multinational federation of engineering and scientific societies concerned with automatic control in its own country.