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.
Continue reading “Flappy Bird Drone Edition”
One staple of science fiction is the ornithopter, which is a plane with moving wings. While these haven’t proved very practical in the general sense, a recent paper talks about mimicking natural wings changing shape to improve maneuverability in drones and other aircraft. In particular, the paper talks about how the flight performance of many birds and bats far exceeds that of conventional aircraft.
The technical term for being more maneuverable than a conventional aircraft is, unsurprisingly, called supermaneuverability. Aircraft performing things like the Pugachev Cobra maneuver (watch the video below, or the latest Top Gun movie) require this type of operation, and with modern aircraft, this means using thrust-vector technology along with unstable airframes and sophisticated computer control. That’s not how birds or bats operate, though, and the paper uses modern flight simulation techniques to show that biomimicry and thrust vector technology don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Continue reading “Up In The Sky… It’s A Bird… It’s A Drone… Oh Yeah, It’s A Drone”
Hackaday editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams recap a week of great hacks. You won’t want to miss the dynamometer Leo Fernekes built to measure the power output of his Sterling engine, which is also DIY. In this age of lithium-powered multirotors, it’s nice to step back and appreciate a hand-built rubberband-powered ornithopter.
We have a surprising amount to say about Python’s addition of the match statement (not be be confused with switch statements). And when it comes to electromechanical synth gear, it’s hard to beat a spinning tape-head sequencer.
Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!
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Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 113: Python Switching To Match, A Magnetic Dyno, A Flying Dino, And A Spinning Sequencer”
For college-aged engineers and designers, finding a problem they’re truly passionate about early on could very well set the trajectory for an entire career. This is precisely the goal of the Cornell Cup, a competition that tasks applicants with solving a real-world problem in a unique and interesting way. From what we saw this is definitely working, as teams showed up with ornithopter-based quadcopters, robotic dinghies, forest fire sniffers, and high-jumping rovers.
With such an open ended approach, individual entries have a tendency to vary wildly, running the gamut from autonomous vehicles to assistive technology. No team feels pressured to pursue a project they aren’t truly invested in, and everyone’s the better for it.
Given such lofty goals, Hackaday was proud to sponsor the 2019 Cornell Cup. Especially as it so closely aligns with the product design focus of this year’s Hackaday Prize. Designing something which solves a real-world problem is definitely part of the formula when the goal is to reach large scale production. And after seeing the entries first-hand during the Finals at Kennedy Space Center, we think every one of them would be a fantastic entry into the Hackaday Prize.
I don’t envy the judges who ultimately had to narrow it down to just a few teams to take home their share of the nearly $20,000 awarded. Join me after the break for a closer look at the projects that ended up coming out on top.
Continue reading “2019 Cornell Cup Winners Include Autonomous Boat, Flapping UAV, And Leaping Rover”
The DelFly project has been busy since the last time we checked in on them. The Dutch team started 13 years ago and produced the smallest camera-carrying drone, and an autonomous tiny ornithopter. However, that ornithopter — now five years old — had to use some traditional control surfaces and a tail like an airplane which was decidedly not fruit fly-like. Now they’ve solved those problems and have announced the DelFly Nimble, a 13 inch and 1-ounce ornithopter. You can see the Nimble in the video below.
The close emulation of a real fly means the thing looks distinctly insect-like in flight. The dual wings use Mylar and form an X configuration. They flap about 17 times per second. A fully charged battery — remember, the whole thing weighs an ounce — lasts five minutes. With an efficient speed of 3 meters per second, the team claims a flight range of over 1 kilometer with a peak speed that can reach 7 meters per second. It can even take a payload, as long as that payload weighs 4 grams or less.
Continue reading “Robotic Fruit Fly Won’t Eat Your Fruit”
We’ve become used to seeing some beautiful hand-made creations at the smaller end of the flying machine scale, tiny aircraft both fixed and rotary wing. An aircraft that weighs a few grams is entirely possible to build, such have been the incredible advances in component availability.
But how much smaller can a working aircraft be made? Given a suitable team and budget, how about into the milligrams? [Dr. Sawyer Fuller] and his team at the University of Washington have made an ornithopter which may be the lightest aircraft yet made, using a piezoelectric drive to flap flexible wings. That in itself isn’t entirely new, but whereas previous efforts had relied on a tether wire supplying electricity, the latest creation flies autonomously with its power supplied by laser to an on-board miniature solar cell that protrudes above the craft on its wires.
Frustratingly Dr. Fuller’s page on the machine is lighter on detail than we’d like, probably because they are saving the juicy stuff for a big reveal at a conference presentation. It is however an extremely interesting development from a technical perspective, as well as opening up an entirely new front in the applications for flying machines. Whatever happens, we’ll keep you posted.
You can see the craft in the video below the break, and if you’re interested lies with more conventional tiny machines take a look at the creator of a 2.9g Mustang model.
Continue reading “Laser-Powered Flying Machine Weighs Milligrams”
Levers are literally all around us. You body uses them to move, pick up a pen to sign your name and you’ll use mechanical advantage to make that ballpoint roll, and that can of soda doesn’t open without a cleverly designed lever.
I got onto this topic quite by accident. I was making an ornithopter and it was having trouble lifting its wings. For the uninitiated, ornithopters are machines which fly by flapping their wings. The problem was that the lever arm was too short. To be honest, as I worked I wasn’t even thinking in terms of levers, and only realized that there was one after I’d fine-tuned its length by trial and error. After that, the presence of a lever was embarrassingly obvious.
I can probably be excused for not seeing a lever right away because it wasn’t the type we most often experience. There are different classes of levers and it’s safe to say that most people aren’t even aware of this. Let’s take a closer look at these super useful, and sometimes hidden mechanisms known as levers.
Continue reading “Mechanisms: The Lever, It’s Everywhere”