The trick was to improve power density through refined materials. The actuators are made with dielectric elastomers that deform under an electric field and have good insulating properties. Their improved electrode conductivity allows them to operate at the same 500 Hz frequency as the rigid actuators found on other robots of this size. They are also easy to assemble and replace. So you can use more wings and actuators to handle more complex tasks. It took a model with four actuators and eight wings to glide in a controlled manner.
The technology is still not very efficient compared to conventional robots. The researchers hope, however, to improve the technology and will eventually want to sell it. If they do, the potential uses are many. Harvard imagine that these robots are useful for search and rescue missions, where a robot might have to navigate dangerous rubble in search of survivors.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o259kRrPM5A [/ embed]