Turns out you don’t have to be a multi-million dollar corporation like Festo to create a remote controlled, flapping bird robot. [Kazuhiko Kakuta] is a medical Doctor of Allergy, and in his free time he likes to build flying mechanical birds with his son.
It has just over a meter wingspan, weighs 193 grams, and it flies by flapping its wings. The majority of its components are 3D printed. If that’s not impressive enough for you as is, consider this. It it has no sensors, no gyroscopes or anything — it’s all manually controlled by [Kazuhiko].
And this isn’t even the only ornithopter he’s done. He’s also created something out of an anime film, Castle in the Sky. He even sells the designs for one of them, to be printed via Shapeways.
Continue reading “Mechanical Bird Actually Flies by Flapping its Wings”
[Ferdinand] sent in a tip about the very cool DelFly Explorer, built by researchers at Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology, which is claimed to be the world’s first autonomous, flapping micro air vehicle. While it doesn’t fly like a typical ornithopter, the specs will convince you not to care. It has an 28 cm wingspan and weighs 20 grams, which includes motors, a battery, two cameras, and an autopilot. The autopilot uses accelerometers and a gyroscope, plus a barometer for altitude measurement. You can see the on-board video at the 35-second mark on the video (after the break). They are incredibly noisy images, but apparently the researchers have come up with some algorithms that can make sense of it.
Put it all together, and you have a machine that can take off, maintain altitude, avoid obstacles, and fly for nine minutes. We’ve seen a cool ornithopter design before, and even a thrust vectoring plane, but this surpasses both projects. It’s pretty incredible what they have been able to fit into such a small design.
Continue reading “The World’s First Autonomous Flapping MAV”
We’re actually going to link to an old post from back in February because we think it’s equally as impressive as the most recent work. This is a 3D printed ornithopter powered by a rubber band (translated). The frame is much like a traditional rubber band plane. The difference is that after winding it up it doesn’t spin a propeller. The flapping of the four plastic membrane wings makes it fly like magic. Seriously, check out the demo below… we almost posted this as “Real or Fake?” feature if we hadn’t seen similar offerings a couple of years back.
The flight lasts a relatively long time when considering the quick winding before launch is all that powered it. But the most recent offerings (translated) from the site include the motorized ornithopter design seen above. It carries a small Lithium cell for continuous flight. These designs have a 3D printed gear system which makes them a bit more complicated, but brings steering and remote control to the party. If you want one of your own they’re working on a small run of kits. We figure it’d be a lot more fun to prototype and print your own. Sure, it’s reinventing the wheel. But it’s a really cool wheel!
Continue reading “Amazing flight of a 3D printed rubber band powered ornithopter”
In case you haven’t heard, the Sikorsky Prize, an aeronautical challenge to build a human-powered helicopter that can hover at three meters for a full sixty seconds, has been claimed. This incredibly difficult engineering feat was accomplished by AeroVelo, along with a lot of help from the University of Toronto and a host of companies involved in the design and manufacture of rotorcraft. This prize has stood unclaimed for thirty years, and it’s not from lack of trying; in the 80s and 90s, universities in Japan tried their hand at the challenge, and recently a team from the University of Maryland had a go at it.
But as far as human-powered flight goes, a helicopter is just about the least efficient way to get off the ground. Helicopters need power to provide their own lift and thrust, whereas airplanes only need to generate some forward momentum.
From the bicycle-powered crossing of the English channel in 1979, human-powered flight has come a long way, so far that next the Royal Aeronautical Society will be hosting the Icarus Cup 2013. It’s a competition where teams of human-powered aircraft enthusiasts will compete in challenges measuring distance, speed, endurance, and landing accuracy.
No, it’s not an ornithopter from Da Vinci’s notebook, but human pectoral muscles aren’t powerful enough for that anyway.
Thanks [DainBramage1991] for sending this one in.
Batbot is a project wherein the researchers are attempting to mimic the biological structure of a bat wing for flight. The desire is to attain the maneuverability and agility you see in bat flight due to the ever changing shape of their wings. Also, bats look really cool. In attempting to mimic the structure, they have decided to use SMA based artificial muscles and steel tendons as opposed to the typical cam linkage you would see in most ornithopters.
Unfortunately, there’s no video of this bot attempting to fly. There is a video (below) of a presentation on the project that explains in detail what they are doing, and how they are doing it. It also has some really cool slow motion footage of real bats doing what they do.
Continue reading “Batbot: Building a functionally correct bat wing robot”
The video you see above is the on board footage of the DelFly2 autonomous ornithopoter robot. Weighing 16 grams, it carries a small camera and can provide a live feed. If you’re amazed at the tiny size and weight of the DelFly2, check out the DelFly micro, video after the break, that weighs 3 grams. Remember when we thought 17 grams was small for an ornithopter?
All processing for the DelFly2 is done at a base station and transmitted to the flying bot to keep the weight down. The team also had to create their own brushless motor that runs at 60% efficiency and weighs only 1.6 grams. The 130mAh battery can sustain 15 minutes of horizontal flight or 8 minutes of hovering.
Continue reading “DelFly2 and DelFly micro”
DARPA has awarded an extension to AeroVironment for their work on the Nano Air Vehicle project. The prototype seen above, called Mercury, is an ornithopter which means it flaps it’s wings. It is the first to show controlled hovering. Look closely, there’s no rudder or tail. Mercury uses the two wings for both lift and control. Ornithopters themselves aren’t new, we’ve even covered them before. Usually they use the flapping wings for propulson and a tail to steer as they travel like an airplane. We would really love to see some detail shots of Mercury.