Researchers at the RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia have drawn inspiration from the way kestrels hover above their prey to develop an autonomous fixed-wing micro air vehicle (MAV) that can gain height from convenient updrafts.
The results are published today, Friday 18th December, in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.
“It’s long been known the birds take advantage of upward air currents to save energy when flying” explains Alex Fisher, a lead author of the paper. “This ‘boost’ of upward-moving air can be found when the wind hits a large obstacle, like a cliff or mountain range, and to a smaller extent close to man-made obstacles like buildings.”
“We envisage that in the future, MAVs will be used for many tasks in urban environments, such as delivering packages, performing surveillance, and search and rescue” he continues. “Using these updrafts would make them more efficient and therefore extend their working range.”
“If you’re familiar with the kestrel, you may know they’ve got a unique way of hunting – hovering over a location without flapping their wings. This allows them to keep their heads still with incredible precision, helping them spot prey on the ground. The preciseness at which they hold position led us to thinking we could try this ‘wind-hovering’ technique on our MAV.”
The researchers used a commercially available polystyrene foam sail-plane as their test platform.
“We were lucky in a sense that these were lightweight, as it allowed us to test the MAV easily in the field” continues Fisher. “This MAV we chose had a number of advantages, including the ability to fly well in light winds, and large control surfaces making it more nimble in the air.”
After developing a control algorithm and installing it on a 36 mm x 26 mm control board which was interfaced with a GPS and magnetometer, the MAV was flown at two test locations, near a hill and close to a building.
At the hill-side, the MAV was able to gain approximately 360 ft (120 m) in height, and could fly autonomously until the control batteries lost power.
Tests close to the building proved more difficult, with the MAV only capable of sustaining flight for around 20 seconds.
“The MAV has a relatively narrow range of wind speeds at which it can soar without power” concludes Fisher. “Birds are able to overcome this problem to some extent by changing the shape of their wings or moving their feathers.”
“Our human pilot was able to outperform our control algorithm under gusty conditions – but not by much! Long-lasting gusts and lulls were a particular problem, but we learnt a lot from these tests.”
Fisher and his colleagues are now working on ways to mimic the changing arrangement of the wing and feathers on hovering birds, to improve the soaring performance of their MAV.
The Latest on: Autonomous glider
via Google News
The Latest on: Autonomous glider
- Rutgers’ underwater gliders keep a watchful eye on NJ’s water quality on May 21, 2019 at 4:56 pm
The gliders are programmed for missions that usually last about two hours. They are completely autonomous and have to rely on ocean currents to move. “When they sit at the surface, instead of ... […]
- The Air Force Wants to Use Air Taxis to Rescue Troops on May 17, 2019 at 12:29 pm
The PR/TV is rolled out the back of the aircraft ramp, and with the help of parachutes the autonomous vehicle slows its descent ... Another company, Logistics Gliders Inc, has developed a drone that ... […]
- Lab Builds Autopilot Software Allowing UAVs to Soar on Thermals on May 13, 2019 at 9:24 am
Now it can help orbit drones like the tiny CICADA glider or long-endurance solar-soaring UAVs that ... from the environment using intelligent software, in the case of the autonomous soaring algorithms ... […]
- Seabed Surveillance Enters Age of Autonomy on May 13, 2019 at 6:56 am
Seabed deformation monitoring is moving into new realms of capability, as self-calibration, autonomous deployment and data collection ... such as Liquid Robotics’ Wave Gliders. Using unmanned systems ... […]
- What is an ocean glider? on April 21, 2019 at 5:00 pm
VIDEO: What is an ocean glider? Here's an overview in under two minutes ... by crossing the Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey to Spain. Learn more. An ocean glider is an autonomous, unmanned underwater ... […]
- British Army tests autonomous glider drone for transporting supplies, soldiers on January 2, 2019 at 10:02 am
The idea of a drone delivering our Amazon orders sounds pretty darn rad, but a key innovation that delivery drones offer is being able to transport supplies to places where they might not otherwise be ... […]
- This AI Method Will Bring Autonomous Vehicles to Skies Sooner Than Expected on October 7, 2018 at 12:31 pm
The aim of the study, published in Nature, was to train a small two-meter wingspan autonomous glider to fly in thermals, just like a real bird would. The glider was programmed with a kind of A.I. ... […]
- Just like an eagle, this autonomous glider can fly on thermal currents on September 25, 2018 at 12:43 pm
An eagle soaring may look majestic but in technical terms, there is some impressive physics happening “under the hood” when they do. Specifically, eagles and other soaring birds take advantage of the ... […]
- AI could help drones ride air currents like birds on September 20, 2018 at 6:05 am
The aim of the study, published in Nature, was to train a small two-metre wingspan autonomous glider to fly in thermals, just like a real bird would. The glider was programmed with a kind of AI known ... […]
- Microsoft’s Autonomous Gliders Might Be Key for Driverless Car on August 2, 2018 at 11:27 pm
On Wednesday, Microsoft published a blog post on its website highlighting the work of one of its A.I. research groups in building and testing autonomous gliders in the Nevada desert. The potential ... […]
via Bing News