May 3, 2013 | Corrinne

If I told you that scientists had built a fleet of robotic flies, you'd probably ask: er, why? I mean, robo-dogs are cute. Robo-flies not so cute.

But these robo-flies are pretty awesome. They're the smallest flying robots ever made. They can take off, fly for 20 seconds and then land again. They even flap their wings like real flies. Better still, the robo-flies' 'muscles' are computer controlled, so we can direct where they go.

So what are robo-flies actually for? Well, mainly to study how natural insect flight works. But eventually they could be used for search and rescue. Amazing!

This story was first published in the 2 May 2013 edition of the journal Science.

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fly wings

Piezoelectric materials are used to control the wings. They beat 120 times every second.

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Image: Flickr/jinterwas

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