CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - Small flying robots created by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could be used for search and rescue missions in the near future.

“Our idea is, if we can send in hundreds or thousands of those tiny flying robots then once they find that survivor, they will shine out light and pass information back and signal people on the outside saying ‘we found someone who’s trapped,'” said MIT professor Kevin Chen.

The robots are being called “Fireflies” due to their resemblance to the bug, according to Chen.

“They’re inspired by nature, so they use flapping wings to fly. They really look like flies or bees,” said Chen.

The robot’s construction is also based on fireflies’ insect biology. It uses soft artificial flying muscles that attach to the miniature robots and lights to communicate.

According to the researchers, they are still five to 10 years away from search and rescue missions. Their immediate goal is to make the robots completely autonomous by putting batteries and flying controls on them.

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