Feeds

Robothopter in biomimetic butterfly boffinry breakthrough

Scientific flap over flapless flapper

Top three mobile application threats

Vid Japanese aerobiomimetics boffins have developed a tiny ornithopter modelled on a swallowtail butterfly.

Here's the obligatory Youtube Flash vid; apologies to those of you reading this on your iPads.

According to Hiroto Tanaka and Isao Shimoyama, the team behind the diminutive flying flapper-bot, the fact that it flies is highly significant. The machine, like the butterfly it is modelled on, beats its wings in simple flapping motions without any fancy control inputs - rather as though it were an aeroplane without elevators, ailerons or flaps.

The two boffins write:

Unlike other flying insects, the wing motion of swallowtail butterflies is basically limited to flapping because their fore wings partly overlap their hind wings, structurally restricting the feathering needed for active control of aerodynamic force. Hence, it can be hypothesized that the flight of swallowtail butterflies is realized with simple flapping, requiring little feedback control of the feathering angle. To verify this hypothesis, we fabricated an artificial butterfly mimicking the wing motion and wing shape of a swallowtail butterfly and analyzed its flights using images taken with a high-speed video camera.

Other butterflies, whose bodies are heavier in relation to their wing area and whose wings are more easily articulated, exert much more active control over their flight surfaces. To date most ornithopter research has focused on this type of flight regime.

Flapping-wing flight is enjoying a resurgence of interest lately as robotics and biomimetics boffins seek to duplicate the various feats that birds and bugs perform easily yet which tend to stymie more conventional airframes such as small unmanned helicopters or planes. Examples include manoeuvres in confined spaces and accurate landings on tiny perches.

US company Aerovironment, for one, is known to be working on a so-called Nano Air Vehicle, thought to use flapping wings, for use by the US military. The new Japanese butterfly research could make such machines simpler and cheaper to build.

Tanaka and Shimoyama publish their research today in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey
Science no match for religion, politics, business interests
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.