Flappy Bird Drone Edition

Ornithopters have been — mostly — the realm of science fiction. However, a paper in Advanced Intelligent Systems by researchers at Lund University proposes that flapping wings may well power the drones of the future. The wing even has mock feathers.

Birds, after all, do a great job of flying, and researchers think that part of it is because birds fold their wings during the upstroke. Mimicking this action in a robot wing has advantages. For example, changing the angle of a flapping wing can help a bird or a drone fly more slowly.

The robot wing’s performance in a wind tunnel may lead to more advanced drones but is also helping scientists understand more about the dynamics of true avian flight. The robot wing, of course, can also move in ways that biological wings can’t. According to the paper, this is the big difference in this system compared with other designs. Most robot wings only flap. They don’t have the complex motions that a bird normally uses to fly.

The paper shows the wing has three servomotors and a gear system. One motor deals with flapping, one with pitch, and another controls the wing’s folding and unfolding.

Flapping is a pretty good way to fly. After all, birds do it, and bees do it. We have seen some ornithopter drones, just not that many.

18 thoughts on “Flappy Bird Drone Edition

    1. Yah, I’ve always wanted a Bubo type thing, autonomous assistant, responds to questions, even if it just quotes Wikipedia. (Local processing though, screw the Alexa type model.)

  1. “The robot wing, of course, can also move in ways that biological wings can’t.”

    Yes precisely, the robot wings cannot match the full range and mimic the subtle nuances in movement that birds wings do to attain flight.
    So we will not ever surpass the efficiency of birds flight until we develop reliable, lightweight dynamic vector actuators. Servo motors with fixed axis movements arent going to accomplish this feat. The ‘complex’ (heavy) mechanisms required to pair with the servos and the batteries to power it all are also why this wont happen. They are our barriers, the same ones we face today and from 100 years ago.

    But if anyone can pull it off, I would think Apple could. They can do anything! Ah yes, the Apple iBird 1. Oh wait actually its the multitude of Chinese manufacturers that make Apple products so amazing! Hmm indeed.

    1. Bring back hand plucked chicken, feathers! Beats being beaten off by many rubber fingers in a washer.
      Best pillow ever made and unpatentable.
      About drones, tail and wing feathers are where to start. Turkey wings!

    1. It was nice knowing you [Bob]!
      All future communiques will likely be from your robot replacement, after the Lizardmen enjoy a delightful repast of your mortal remains.

      1. Please ignore my prior statements, as my account was hacked. Obviously birds are real, and I’d never have posted those vile anti-bird sentiments. If you ask me, I’d say those who are accusing us of not being real are themselves, in fact, the robots! #birds4Congress2028

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