The RoboBee, created with flat layers of laser-cut carbon fiber connected with embedded plastic and piezoelectric actuators that flap at 120 beats per second, is powered by an external source through a wire tether.
There's one caveat: The RoboBee's plunge into the water isn't exactly graceful. To rise above the challenge of the super lightweight robot, the engineers realized that the gadget would have to crash into the water with enough force that it would sink a bit before switching over to a swim. As a result, the external power source is shut off just before the robotic bee's descent into water.
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As an extra precaution, the team used deionized water, or water with all mineral ions removed, to avoid an electrical short when the bee swims.
Some kinks will have to be worked out, such as further insulating the robotic insect's coating to better protect the electrical connections, but the technology certainly makes a big splash for more advancements to come, such as possibilities for more or refined versions of robotic insects or larger flying submarines.
via Harvard and Gizmag