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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Prufrock The Newest Boring Machine
'It sounds to me as though you had invented a kind of metal earthworm...'
Stratuscent Electronic Nose
'It's picking up diphenyl compounds and tetra hydrocarbons.' - Michael Crichton, 1985.
Smart Contact Lenses Charges With 3D Printed Antenna
'He realized that it was not quite a clear lens.' - Vernor Vinge, 2001.
Physicist Inspired By SciFi And Seeing Back In Time
'Here is the chronoscope... Scansion depends upon a special curved field...'
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.
I Want My 1928 Telestereo Hologram Now
'Instantly there appeared standing upon the disk, the image of a man...'
Memes Now Come From Neural Nets
'Your order said for him to be able to be able to work out twists on the gags in the file...'
Robot Dog Learns To Be Doggy From Real Dogs
'So we took pictures of Guzub making a Three Planets, and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.'
Unwanted Cruise Ships Huddle Together Out At Sea
'On the screen they passed in an endless, boundaryless flood of green specks...'
Sono Sion Electric Car Charges As You Drive
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'
News Mood Filter Web Extension
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'
Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...'
MIT Wants To Catch Interstellar Visitors
'INVESTIGATE MYSTERIOUS OBJECT ENTERING NEW CALEDONIA SYSTEM FROM NORMAL SPACE'
AutoX Sets Up Asia's Largest Robotaxi Center
'The robot cab seemed to know where it was going and, no doubt, the master machine from which it received its signals knew.'
E - Ink's Automatic Self Styling Color-Changing Dress
'The racks of gowns itched and quivered, their colors running into blurred pools.'
Soft Robots Use Kirigami Piezoelectric Sensor Skin
'A worthy opponent was the golem.'
Bosch Smartglasses Laser Paints AR Image On Your Retina
'Soon we'll be testing a system that projects directly on the retina of the eye.'
Maybe We Could Hibernate Until The Covid-19 Pandemic's End
'Cold-rest was a common last resort therapy for functional psychoses.'
Workplace Monitoring Hell, I Mean, Tool For Safe Distancing
'And here is the weirdest part -- I never see another employee the entire day.'
Patent Office Says AIs Cannot Be Inventors
'The real smart ones are as smart as the Turing heat is willing to let 'em get.'
Starlink Orbital Network Like Coruscant Traffic Jam
Vermin of the Sky? Or Internet access for all?
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories