NASA Begins Developing Robot Bees To Explore Martian Surface

By Mac Slavo

A newly funded NASA project has the goal of developing robotic bees to explore the surface of Mars. The project, dubbed “Marsbees” will help the space agency get around the red planet by air as opposed to the slow moving land robot, the Mars Curiosity Rover.

Dr. Chang-kwon Kang, an aerospace engineer at the University of Alabama, Huntsville and one of the researchers behind the initiative, said these “robotic flapping wing flyers of a bumblebee size” could “significantly enhance the Mars exploration mission.” The tiny robots would be fitted with sensors and wireless communication devices and would use a Mars rover like Nasa’s Curiosity as a charging point.

Because the rocky landscape on Mars is hard on the Mars rover wheels, NASA researchers are funding ways to explore the Red Planet by taking robotics to fly there instead. “Our preliminary numerical results suggest that a bumblebee with a cicada wing can generate sufficient lift to hover in the Martian atmosphere,” writes Chang-kwon Kang.

The Marsbee robots, on the other hand, could travel quickly across the planet’s surface, beaming information back to the rover, which would also act as the main communication center. …read more