Microfliers are tiny flying computers the size of a grain of sand

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The miniaturisation of technology has come to an impressive lead with the invention of microfliers. Created by a team of Northwestern University engineers, microchips the size of a grain of sand have now achieved flight.

Northwestern University's microfliers designed for data collection

Via the Northwestern University website, these tiny flying computers chips are designed to be air-dropped in massive swarms. Utilising a collection of sensors, antennas and on-board memory, the tiny drone-swarms are designed for data collection.

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The microfliers don't have the power to fly entirely by themselves. However, the miniscule robots are aerodynamic enough to ride the winds to their destination. The devices are designed “like a maple tree’s propeller seed”. As it falls, the spinning device can stabilise itself for a safe landing.

As the “smallest-ever human-made flying structure”, Northwestern University’s microfliers are incredibly impressive. However, in the world of conspiracy theorists bizarrely believing the coronavirus vaccine hides 5G chips, many will be wondering what these devices are for.

PSX microfliers on a man's finger
Oh, they're small alright.

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What are they for?

Project lead John A. Rogers revealed that microfliers are designed for “contamination monitoring, population surveillance or disease tracking”. In air, the devices can collect data in real-time, store it and wirelessly transfer to nearby devices.

Another use case saw the microfliers equipped with PH detectors and photodetectors. With these sensors, the devices were used to monitor water quality and “sun exposure at different wavelengths”. 

According to Rogers, the best use case would see the devices swarm an area after a chemical spill. The devices would then be used so take important readings from the affected area without risking human lives.

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Of course, swarming areas with hordes of drones could result in massive littering. However, Rogers claims microfliers can be made of water-dissolvable materials to minimise littering.

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