Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Bio-Mechanics And Micro-Robotic Flight

It seems perfectly natural to use insects as the basis for fictional micro-robotic flight. That's exactly what Raymond Z. Gallun did in his 1936 classic short story The Scarab, using a flying beetle to evoke the idea of a tiny robotic flying machine:

The Scarab rubbed its hind legs together, as flies will do when at rest. Then, apparently satisfied that it was in condition, it unfolded the coleoptera-like plates over its wings. With a buzz that any uninformed person would have mistaken for that of a beetle, it started out on its journey...

...the Scarab buzzed into the great workroom as any intruding insect might, and sought the security of a shadowed corner.
(Read more about scarab beetle robotic flyer)

Is the key to micro air vehicles (MAVs) to be found in the bio-mechanics of insects? John Loughmiller, an electrical engineer and commercial pilot writing in Design News, thinks so.


(Dragonfly in flight)

Note the positions of the Dragonfly’s four wings. The two front wings are in a stable position in this still frame and appear to be generating equal lift. The two back wings however do not match the position of the front wings nor do they match positions relative to one another. It appears that this Dragonfly is in the process of executing a lateral maneuver from a hover by inducing drag with the rear wings in unequal amounts. The resulting complex vortices can only be analyzed using Computational Fluid Dynamics.

“An airfoil uses aerodynamic lift to carry its weight. But the dragonfly uses a lot of aerodynamic drag to carry its weight. That is weird, because with airplanes you always think about minimizing drag. You never think about using drag.”

When the Dragonfly is moving forward, the two sets of wings are flapped in phase, generating lift and directional momentum.

When hovering however, the rear wings are intentionally flapped out of phase, with both the angle of attack and relative position of the front wings, which generates drag preventing motion relative to the earth but still generating lift. By decoupling one rear wing’s movement from the other, the insect can also move side to side.

All of these maneuvers require understanding of the vortices involved, because the vortices cancel or enhance lift as they interact, so a flexible CFD toolset is required.

But if these motions can be duplicated mechanically, they could give a micro-robot the ability to move rapidly from one location to another and then hover for purposes of surveillance. All the while the micro-robotic mini-spy would be generating an extremely small visual and Radar footprint plus an equally small noise signature.

Capabilities like these are of great interest to the military and law enforcement.

Read other detailed examples at Design News.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/11/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

The Dune Ornithopter, Movie And Book
'The wings were at full spread-rest, their delicate metal interleavings extended.' Frank Herbert, 1965.

Two Towns Linked By Sculpture Portal In Real Time
'I am the Guardian of Forever.' - Gene Roddenberry, 1967.

Plasma Window Technology, Pressure Cushions and Deflector Doors
'The Marine Gunner stepped gingerly through the invisible barrier. He had to push.' - Niven and Pournelle, 1974.

Giant Telescope Lenses Made In Space
'...a cyclopean beast living among the asteroidal rubble of some distant sun.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1953.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Your Martian Dream Home, Made By Fungi
'... it was the cheapest building material known.'

The Dune Ornithopter, Movie And Book
'The wings were at full spread-rest, their delicate metal interleavings extended.'

100X Improvement In DNA Information Storage
'A record that wouldn't get lost and couldn't be destroyed.'

NASA 'Holoports' Doctor Onto Space Station
Star Trek Voyager Emergency Medical Hologram

Should We Train AIs To Imagine A Future Of Horrific Disasters
'LET ME TELL YOU HOW MUCH I'VE COME TO HATE YOU SINCE I BEGAN TO LIVE.'

Mouth Haptics Invented By Frederik Pohl In 1965, CMU Now Has Prototype
'What he got was indeed a kiss. It was disconcerting. No kissing lips were visible.'

Two Towns Linked By Sculpture Portal In Real Time
'I am the Guardian of Forever.'

3D Printed Robotic Tentacles
'... articulate ropes of steel dangling'

Update: Musk Doubles Down On Optimus Prime Humanoid Robot
'I shall introduce myself. I am R. Daneel Olivaw... I am a robot. Were you not told?'

Elon Musk: Production Of Robotaxis In 2024
'How about the steering wheel... I don't need one.'

True Crime Live Podcasting In Fiction
'And loving it too, those millions. Bloodthirsty to the last one of them.'

AI Employment Decision Software Reconsidered By California Lawmakers
'They had screwed up and been blacklisted by Manna. They were back living with their parents or sleeping on the sofa with a friend.'

Six Ships Are Now Docked At The International Space Station!
It's getting crowded up there!

SUCHO Saving Ukraine's Libraries Digitally
'No human mind could ever hope to master even a small portion of what was being received every second, Sam thought, but it would all be there...'

Optimus Prime Tesla Robot Overall Humanoid Software Architecture
'I shall introduce myself. I am R. Daneel Olivaw... I am a robot. Were you not told?'

Vast Cosmic Structures And Spooky Alignments
'This postulates a force-field of partly electromagnetic character, generated by gyromagnetic action within atomic nuclei near the center of the galaxy.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.