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BOLT Bipedal Ornithopter Robot

BOLT (or Bipedal Ornithopter for Locomotion Transitioning) is a small flapping wing micro-air vehicle (MAV) under development at UC Berkeley. The BOLT is the second device shown in the following video, starting at about 50 seconds.


(Bipedal Ornithopter for Locomotion Transitioning video)

BOLT also has tiny legs that help it save energy by moving around on the surface before taking flight.

Flapping flight provides the high maneuverability necessary for operation in a partially structured indoor environment. To achieve robust intelligence for tasks such as search and indoor navigation, the maneuverability of the ornithopter will be combined with a learning approach which makes minimal assumptions about the nature of disturbances and obstacles. This approach will develop optimal control policies for single or multiple vehicles.

Based on globally optimal distributed reinforcement learning, we propose to develop algorithms for a set of ornithopters to cooperate in sensing and navigation among unmodelled obstacles such as doors and walls. Our research will be verified with full three dimensional dynamic simulation, a multi-tethered laboratory test-bed, as well as with actual indoor flying ornithopters.

Bolt is a 13 gram ornithopter with legs for mixed-mode locomotion. In running modes, wings provide passive stability. With wing assisted running, BOLT can run at 2.5 m/sec while maintaining ground contact.

Fans of sf great Raymond Z. Gallun recall the Scarab robotic flying insect, a remote-controlled device for surveillance from his 1936 story The Scarab:

The Scarab paused on its perch for a moment, as if to determine for itself whether it was perfectly fit for action. It was a tiny thing, scarcely more than an inch and a half in length...

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.

...It landed close to the stone walls of the structure.

Via Gizmodo AU and Biomimetic Millisystems Lab.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/27/2011)

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