Researchers have created an indestructible robot the size of a fly - 2020

Last updated January 9, 2022 at 04:50 AM

EPFL researchers have developed an ultra-light robot-insect. Equipped with flexible artificial muscles, it can move at a speed of 3 centimeters per second over different types of terrain. It can be bent or crushed, then keep moving.

If you hate insects, you will completely change your mind after seeing these images

At EPFL, researchers from the Faculty of Engineering Sciences and Techniques have developed a flexible insect robot called DEANsect. It moves at a speed of three centimeters per second thanks to artificial muscles. Two versions of this indestructible robot have been developed.


Researchers have created an indestructible robot the size of a fly Click to tweet




The first version, which works with ultra-fine wires, is extremely robust: it can be folded, be crushed by a fly swatter or by a human foot, then continue to move.


Researchers have created an indestructible robot the size of a fly


The second version is self-contained and wireless, and weighs less than a gram. The latter carries his battery and all electronic components on his back. A microcontroller acts as the brain, and photodiodes constitute its eyes. Endowed with intelligence, he is able to recognize white or black patterns, and therefore to follow a line drawn on the ground.


Researchers have created an indestructible robot the size of a fly


Unusual: The chimeras that men created and their reasons for being


DEANsect technology was developed at the Flexible Microsystems Laboratory (LMTS), in collaboration with the Laboratory of Integrated Actuators (LAI) at EPFL and the University of Cergy-Pontoise, in France. It is the subject of a Science Robotics publication.




Moving the robot by vibration


The lightness and speed of the insect robot is based mainly on the use of artificial muscles - or dielectric elastomer actuators (DEA) - the size of a hair, which allow the robot to move forward by "vibration". The little robot can thus climb and descend, and evolve on different terrains. Artificial muscles are made up of an elastomeric membrane, sandwiched between two flexible electrodes. When a voltage is applied, the electrodes are attracted to each other, compressing the membrane. The latter returns to its original form when the voltage is turned off. Such muscles equip the three legs of the robot-insect, and the movement is generated by turning the voltage on and off extremely quickly: more than 400 times per second. In order for DEAnsect's artificial muscles to function with relatively low voltages, the researchers used nanofabrication techniques that make it possible to decrease the thickness of the elastomer, and to make electrodes thick with a few molecules, which are at the same time flexible. and highly conductive.


The 12 strangest natural phenomena of our planet with supporting video


This tip drastically reduces the size of the diet. "Usually, several kilovolts are required to make the DEAs work, and the power source is voluminous," explains Herbert Shea, director of the LMTS. "Our robot can carry everything necessary for its operation on its back, while it weighs only 0.2 grams."



This advance creates new possibilities for a generalized use of DEAs in robotics. For the creation of swarms of intelligent robotic insects, for example, to carry out remote repairs, or to better understand the colonies of insects, by sending a robot to live among them. "We are currently working with Stanford University to develop a fully flexible wireless version of DEANsect," said Herbert Shea. "Thereafter, we will equip the robots with new sensors and transmitters, so that they can communicate with each other."

The 16 famous mysteries that the world has forgotten they have been solved





Xiaobin Ji, Xinchang Liu, Vito Cacucciolo, Matthias Imboden, Yoan Civet,
Alae El Haitami, Sophie Cantin, Yves Perriard & Herbert Shea, “An autonomous
untethered fast soft robotic insect driven by low-voltage dielectric elastomer actuators, ”
Science Robotics, 4, eaaz6451 (2019)

Press kit:




Herbert shea
Flexible microsystems laboratory (LMTS)
English French
Phone: +41 21 693 66 63 / +41 79 349 71 66
Xiaobin Ji
Flexible microsystems laboratory (LMTS)
French / Mandarin
Phone. : +41 21 695 4463
E-mail :


Subscribe to our newsletter

* Indicates required




You may be interested in 3 reasons why a water bottle in the car can cost you your life et How to learn? The right method.




Researchers have created an indestructible robot the size of a fly

Leave comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

eighteen - 6 =