Nano Flight: Bots, Robots and Beyond

Nano Flight: Bots, Robots and Beyond
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Cap Falcon selected three research initiatives that cast a new light on the progress of nano flight and their possible applications.

Agility: John Hopkins University: “To improve the next generation of insect-size flying machines, Johns Hopkins engineers have been aiming high-speed video cameras at some of the prettiest bugs on the planet. By figuring out how butterflies flutter among flowers with amazing grace and agility, the researchers hope to help small airborne robots mimic these maneuvers.

U.S. defense agencies, which have funded this research, are supporting the development of bug-size flyers to carry out reconnaissance, search-and-rescue and environmental monitoring missions without risking human lives. These devices are commonly called micro aerial vehicles or MAVs.

For military missions in particular, these MAVs must be able to fly successfully through complex urban environments, where there can be tight spaces and turbulent gusts of wind,” said Tiras Lin, a Whiting School of Engineering undergraduate who has been conducting the high-speed video research. “These flying robots will need to be able to turn quickly. But one area in which MAVs are lacking is maneuverability.”

To address that shortcoming, Lin has been studying butterflies. “Flying insects are capable of performing a dazzling variety of flight maneuvers,” he said. “In designing MAVs, we can learn a lot from flying insects.”

Scalability: Underneath, a swarm of coordinated Nano quadrotors in experiments performed at the GRASP Lab, University of Pennsylvania. Vehicles developed by KMel Robotics. The experiment provides interesting perspectives in foreseeing swarms of nano drones aiming an objective with different targets.

And Beyond: Cyborgs  – According to the New Scientist: “The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been running a programme to develop machine-insect interfaces for years but electrodes implanted to stimulate the brains or wing muscles of insects were not precise enough. Now Joel Voldman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and colleagues have designed a unique, flexible neural probe that can be attached directly to an insect’s ventral nerve cord (VNC), which, along with the brain, makes up the central nervous system in insects.”

John Hopkins University
The New Scientist

Photo Credits: John Hopkins University