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Bioinspired morphing wings for extended flight envelope and roll control of small drones

  • Authors: di Luca, Matteo; Mintchev, Stefano; Heitz, Grégoire Hilaire Marie; Noca, Flavio; Floreano, Dario

Small-winged drones can face highly varied aerodynamic requirements, such as high manoeuvrability for flight among obstacles and high wind resistance for constant ground speed against strong headwinds that cannot all be optimally addressed by a single aerodynamic profile. Several bird species solve this problem by changing the shape of their wings to adapt to the different aerodynamic requirements. Here, we describe a novel morphing wing design composed of artificial feathers that can rapidly modify its geometry to fulfil different aerodynamic requirements. We show that a fully deployed configuration enhances manoeuvrability while a folded configuration offers low drag at high speeds and is beneficial in strong headwinds. We also show that asymmetric folding of the wings can be used for roll control of the drone. The aerodynamic performance of the morphing wing is characterized in simulations, in wind tunnel measurements and validated in outdoor flights with a small drone.

Posted on: December 20, 2016

Development of Bio-inspired Underwater Robot with Adaptive Morphology Capable of Multiple Swimming Modes

  • Authors: Paschal, Thibaut André Pierre; Shintake, Jun; Mintchev, Stefano; Floreano, Dario

Bio-inspired underwater robots have several benefits compared to traditional underwater vehicles such as agility, efficiency, and an environmentally friendly body. However, the bio-inspired underwater robots developed so far have a single swimming mode, which may limit their capability to perform different tasks. This paper presents a re-configurable bio-inspired underwater robot that changes morphology to enable multiple swimming modes: octopus-mode and fish-mode. The robot is 60 cm long and 50 cm wide, weighing 2.1 kg, and consists of a re-configurable body and 8 compliant arms that are actuated independently by waterproof servomotors. In the robot, the octopus-mode is expected to perform unique tasks such as object manipulation and ground locomotion as demonstrated in literature, while the fish-mode is promising to swim faster and efficiently to travel long distance. With this platform, we investigate effectiveness of adaptive morphology in bio-inspired underwater robots. For this purpose, we evaluate the robot in terms of the cost of transport and the swimming efficiency of both the morphologies. The fish-mode exhibited a lower cost of transport of 2.2 and higher efficiency of 1.2 % compared to the octopus-mode, illustrating the effect of the multiple swimming modes by adaptive morphology.

Posted on: October 9, 2017