Flapping Wing Micro Aerial Robots – (II) Wing Actuation and Flight-Control
The role of robotic systems including miniature unmanned autonomous vehicles is expected to grow significantly in the near future. With rapid advancement in sensor and robotic technologies, unmanned aerial vehicles are envisaged to be assigned various tasks including disaster monitoring, product delivery and, surveillance and reconnaissance. Current challenges in the implementation of miniature aerial vehicles in the outdoor environment lay in their inability to solve problems such as maintaining stable flight while navigating through complex environments. Aerial locomotion is particularly difficult close to the Earth’s surface where the winds can very rapidly change in speed and direction rendering the conditions unfavorable for flight. High levels of turbulence in the wind can be adverse for flight and poses severe flight-control challenges. Flapping flight offers particularly advantages over other platforms especially at small size scales. However due to the vastly different and dynamic nature of aerodynamic force production, wing actuation and flight control is extremely challenging.
This project will aim to develop bio-inspired and mimetic wing actuation and control system for micro aerial robots. In particular, the potential of electromagnetic actuation of wings to drive the wings in flapping motion will be assessed instead of resorting to traditional methods of converting rotational motion to reciprocating motion. The latter can be mechanical very inefficient while rendering limited control. The project will also seek to develop a “shoulder joint” for the robot that facilitated actuation of the different aspect of wing kinematics, including wing elevation-depression, pronation-supination, etc. The combination of an innovative wing driving mechanism coupled with high degree of freedom for actuation will bestow high flight control authority for micro-flying robots to tackle the control challenges posed inflight.