Explorer Moment of the Day: Rob Wood

Picture of a robotic bee landing on a flower
Photograph by P. Chirarattananon, Harvard Microrobotics Lab

Invasion of the RoboBees

Rob Wood, a 2014 emerging explorer, is an expert in robots that fly, robots you wear, squishy robots, and tiny robots the size of a nickel. He founded the Microrobotics Lab at Harvard University, where he leads a team that invents and develops entirely new classes of micro-robots and robots made of soft materials that may one day play a transformative role in medicine, search-and-rescue missions, and agriculture.

"The RoboBee project is developing small flying robots—'Micro Air Vehicles'—that can be used for hazardous environment exploration, search and rescue, and a host of conditions where small size and extreme agility are necessary. Along the way, we have had to develop all the component technologies from scratch. Nothing exists 'off the shelf' that would work for these robots, so we have to invent new solutions for everything. While this may sound frustrating, it is actually quite fruitful. For example, if we can make insect-size robots, then we can also make novel tools for things like minimally invasive surgical procedures—something we are currently working on in parallel."

—Rob Wood, 2014 emerging explorer


Rob Wood, a National Geographic 2014 emerging explorer and award-winning engineer, is working on entirely new classes of robots—including a fleet of tiny, robotic bees—that may one day transform space exploration, agriculture, and search-and-rescue operations.


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