The insect robot DelFly, developed at the Delft University of Technology, decorated the home page of the prestigious scientific journal Science. Although it does not have propellers, it can drones in a fast and accurate way, thanks to plastic wings. The complex vibration of the ailerons is the subject of scientific work, which Czech scientist has also attended.
Matěj Karásek, acting at the Delft University of Technology, is the chief designer of the flying robot DelFly Nimble. It can imitate the waving of wings of the fruit fly. Their highly efficient device allows them not only to float on the spot and fly in any direction but also to make very gentle maneuvers.
The fruit fly is about fifty times smaller than the DelFly Nimble robot, and wings waving nearly ten times faster, but the aerodynamic and physical principles used are similar. DelFly arrived on the cover of the September issue of the Science journal (study here).
The agile robot manages aerial acrobatics
The DelFly Nimble Robot achieves the top speed of 25 kilometers per hour and is capable of maneuvers, such as loops and 360 degree turns, explains the chief designer of the Karasek robot.
“In addition, the robot has a 33-centimeter wingspan of 29 grams, thanks to its size, excellent energy efficiency, allowing it to fly for more than one kilometer or more for a full battery charge for five minutes,” explains Karasek.
Insect robot DelFly Nimble was born in the Delphi University of Micro Air Vehicle Laboratory (MAVLab) in collaboration with Wageningen University. According to the Delft Technical University Web site, scientists have been collaborating with the allegedly first autonomous robot, whose drive is based on insect-inspired waving wings. The device is intended to improve understanding of how carnations perform bold escape maneuvers.
The characteristic of flying animals is the fact that the flight drives and controls wing waving. This allows small airplanes, such as winged insects, to float just above the flower, but also to fly quickly in case of danger. Above all the flying abilities to live organisms have always attracted the attention of biologists. They study not only their complex wings and aerodynamics but also their sensory and neuromotor systems during agile maneuvers.
Inspired by nature and mathematics
Flying animals have recently become a source of inspiration for research in the field of robotics. Experts are trying to develop light flying devices that are nimble, energy-efficient, and small as insects.
The Technical University of Delft claims that their robot is still unmatched with their achievements, yet it is simple. The wings can wake up seventeen times per second, allowing it not only to keep up in the air but also to control the flight through small changes in the wings movement.
Previous versions of DelFly 2013:
Robot dragonfly DelFly Explorer flies autonomously
The DelFly Explorer can perform an autonomous take-off, keep its height, and avoid obstacles for as long as its battery lasts (~9 minutes). All sensing and processing is performed on board, so no human or offboard computer is in the loop.
"Autonomous Flight of a 20-gram Flapping Wing MAV with a 4-gram Onboard Stereo Vision System", by C. De Wagter, S. Tijmons, B.D.W. Remes, and G.C.H.E. de Croon, (submitted).