RoboBees take to the sky – and now the sea | Wyss Institute at Harvard
Engineers have been trying to design functional aerial-aquatic vehicles for decades with little success. The biggest challenge is conflicting design requirements: aerial vehicles require large airfoils like wings or sails to generate lift while underwater vehicles need to minimize surface area to reduce drag.
To solve this, engineers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University took a clue from puffins. The birds with flamboyant-colored beaks are one of nature’s most adept hybrid locomotors, employing similar flapping motions to propel themselves through air as well as through water to dive for fish.