Your friendly neighborhood hummingbirds. If drones had this combo, they would be able to maneuver better through collapsed buildings and other cluttered spaces to find trapped victims.
Purdue University researchers have engineered flying robots that behave like hummingbirds, trained by machine learning algorithms based on various techniques the bird uses naturally every day.
This means that after learning from a simulation, the robot “knows” how to move around on its own like a hummingbird would, such as discerning when to perform an escape maneuver.
Artificial intelligence, combined with flexible flapping wings, also allows the robot to teach itself new tricks. Even though the robot can’t see yet, for example, it senses by touching surfaces. Each touch alters an electrical current, which the researchers realized they could track.
“The robot can essentially create a map without seeing its surroundings. This could be helpful in a situation when the robot might be searching for victims in a dark place – and it means one less sensor to add when we do give the robot the ability to see,” said Xinyan Deng, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue.
The researchers will present their work on May 20 at the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Montreal.
Drones can’t be made infinitely smaller, due to the way conventional aerodynamics work. They wouldn’t be able to generate enough lift to support their weight.
But hummingbirds don’t use conventional aerodynamics – and their wings are resilient. “The physics is simply different; the aerodynamics is inherently unsteady, with high angles of attack and high lift. This makes it possible for smaller, flying animals to exist, and also possible for us to scale down flapping wing robots,” Deng said.
Researchers have been trying for years to decode hummingbird flight so that robots can fly where larger aircraft can’t. In 2011, the company AeroVironment, commissioned by DARPA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Defense, built a robotic hummingbird that was heavier than a real one but not as fast, with helicopter-like flight controls and limited maneuverability. It required a human to be behind a remote control at all times.
Deng’s group and her collaborators studied hummingbirds themselves for multiple summers in Montana. They documented key hummingbird maneuvers, such as making a rapid 180-degree turn, and translated them to computer algorithms that the robot could learn from when hooked up to a simulation.
Further study on the physics of insects and hummingbirds allowed Purdue researchers to build robots smaller than hummingbirds – and even as small as insects – without compromising the way they fly. The smaller the size, the greater the wing flapping frequency, and the more efficiently they fly, Deng says.
The robots have 3D-printed bodies, wings made of carbon fiber and laser-cut membranes. The researchers have built one hummingbird robot weighing 12 grams – the weight of the average adult magnificent hummingbird – and another insect-sized robot weighing 1 gram. The hummingbird robot can lift more than its own weight, up to 27 grams.
Designing their robots with higher lift gives the researchers more wiggle room to eventually add a battery and sensing technology, such as a camera or GPS. Currently, the robot needs to be tethered to an energy source while it flies – but that won’t be for much longer, the researchers say.
The robots could fly silently just as a real hummingbird does, making them more ideal for covert operations. And they stay steady through turbulence, which the researchers demonstrated by testing the dynamically scaled wings in an oil tank.
The robot requires only two motors and can control each wing independently of the other, which is how flying animals perform highly agile maneuvers in nature.
“An actual hummingbird has multiple groups of muscles to do power and steering strokes, but a robot should be as light as possible, so that you have maximum performance on minimal weight,” Deng said.
Robotic hummingbirds wouldn’t only help with search-and-rescue missions, but also would allow biologists to study hummingbirds more reliably in their natural environment through the senses of a realistic robot.
“We learned from biology to build the robot, and now biological discoveries can happen with extra help from robots,” Deng said.
Simulations of the technology are available open-source at https://github.com/purdue-biorobotics/flappy.
The Latest on: Flying robots
via Google News
The Latest on: Flying robots
- Toyota AI Ventures exec sets sights on future mobilityon November 29, 2019 at 6:00 pm
And the robot can ask for your ID, or you can dispatch it ... On the far other end of the spectrum, you've invested in Joby Aviation, one of the flying- taxi companies. Does air mobility really have ...
- FedEx lets delivery robot 'Roxo' loose in NYC for the first time, but is 'sent packing' by the mayoron November 27, 2019 at 1:57 am
Robots could become part of its SameDay service that operates in 1,900 cities around ... Autonomous delivery drones, self-driving delivery vehicles and even flying warehouses have all been proposed ...
- There are now two AI-powered robot ‘bees’ flying around the space stationon November 26, 2019 at 8:20 pm
During crew changes that number can be temporarily higher or lower, but there are almost always six humans aboard the spacecraft at any given time. The robot population of the orbiting laboratory, on ...
- Robots have jumped, raced and rolled a long way in the last 10 yearson November 26, 2019 at 12:58 pm
You might even own one yourself. These flying bots are largely used for aerial filming, taking photographs or just aerial fun, but Google, Amazon and UPS all are testing delivery drones that will fly ...
- Now there are two NASA flying Astrobee robots working on the ISSon November 26, 2019 at 10:54 am
NASA has deployed a second Astrobee free-flying robot called ‘Honey’ on the International Space Station. As with the initial Astrobee, the new addition is designed to help astronauts on the space ...
- NASA’s second free-flying assistant robot gets to workon November 26, 2019 at 4:51 am
The International Space Station is crewed by more than astronauts these days – NASA activated a free-floating autonomous robot called ‘Bumble’ earlier this year, and now Bumble has a new companion ...
- NASA's Second Astrobee Robot Assistant Now Active Aboard ISSon November 26, 2019 at 1:01 am
The third Astrobee robot, Queen, will be the last to wake up in space. Astrobee is a free-flying robot system of three robots and a docking station for charging. The robotic “teammates” aboard the ISS ...
- CES 2020 Guide: All The Robots You Can Handleon November 25, 2019 at 3:44 am
With 2.9 million net square feet of flying taxis, talking refrigerators and super cute robots sprawled across nearly a dozen venues on the Las Vegas Strip, you’re going to a plan. To make the most of ...
- DJI’s new line of STEM-focused drones and robots make great giftson November 23, 2019 at 2:00 am
As fun as it is to indulge in theories about robots taking over, it would be unwise for us to fear technology ... The tiny device weighs less than the average smartphone, meaning it's ideal for travel ...
- There’s no way a $93 robot vacuum should be as good as thison November 21, 2019 at 3:06 pm
There are tons of deals flying around right now on popular robot vacuum cleaners, but not even the best Black Friday sale will offer you the kind of value you’ll get from the Pure Clean PUCRC25 ...
via Bing News