Feeds

Our TINY flying robot moves like a JELLYFISH, say NYU boffins

If you like it then you should've put four wings on it – boffins

The next step in data security

Boffins have already come up with mini-robots that can fly like helicopters and others that fly like insects – but the latest flying bot moves through the air rather unusually, in the same way that a jellyfish swims.

Jellyfish flying robot

Still from a video of the jellyfish flying bot, which can be seen here.

Researchers have built a bot whose flying motion uses the same movements as the boneless, pulsating swimming of the jellyfish underwater.

While insect flight is a natural thought for most when they think of trying to build a small flying robot, the problem with insect flight is that their flapping wings are frequently inherently unstable, according to Leif Ristroph of New York University.

Flies have to constantly monitor their environment to sense every gust of wind and passing predator, making lightning-flash corrections almost all the time just to stay in flight and manoeuvre around. Trying to recreate that kind of control in a tiny robot is extremely difficult for engineers.

Instead, Ristroph came up with a new type of flight that doesn't need a feedback system or control to be stable, using similar motions to a jellyfish. Their prototype device weighs just two grams and is just 8cm wide. To fly, the bot flaps four wings that are arranged like the petals of a flower, mimicking the up-and-down motion of a pulsating jellyfish.

The flight of the fluttering jellybot, in which it flaps its four wings 20 times a second, could end up looking more like that of a moth than anything else, but it can hover, ascend and fly in a particular direction. However, it is limited by being attached to an external power source and it can't steer, either by itself or by remote control.

Although a practical robot is still pretty far off, the boffins are happy that the prototype shows a proof of concept of the type of flight, which could give a blueprint for more sophisticated and complex bots. The prototype also has a simple design, helping scientists with their ultimate goal of making flying robots just the size of a centimetre so they can squeeze into small spaces and get around undetected - making them handy for surveillance as well as search-and-rescue and atmosphere and traffic monitoring.

Ristroph and his colleague at NYU, Stephen Childress, presented their prototype at the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting yesterday. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Stray positrons caught on ISS hint at DARK MATTER source
Landlubber scope-gazers squint to horizons and see anti-electron count surge
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.