University of Bristol scientists have developed a new drive system for flapping wing autonomous robots. They have used a new method of electromechanical zipping. It does away with the need for conventional motors and gears.
The study has been published in the journal Science Robotics. It could pave the way for smaller, lighter and more effective micro flying robots for environmental monitoring. It can search, rescue and deployment in hazardous environments.
Typical micro flying robots have used motors, gears and other complex transmission systems. They would achieve the up-and-down motion of the wings. It has complexity, weight and undesired dynamic effects.
Scientists took inspiration from bees and other flying insects. Scientists from Bristol’s Faculty of Engineering have successfully demonstrated a direct-drive artificial muscle system. They have called it Liquid-amplified Zipping Actuator. It can achieve wing motion using no rotating parts or gears.
The LAZA system simplifies the flapping mechanism. This will enable future miniaturization of flapping robots down to the size of insects.
Scientists showed how a pair of LAZA-powered flapping wings can provide more power compared with insect muscle of the same weight. It will be enough to fly a robot across a room at 18 body lengths per second.
Scientists demonstrated how the LAZA can deliver consistent flapping over more than one million cycles. It is important for making flapping robots that can undertake long-haul flights.
Scientists expected LAZA to be adopted as a fundamental building block for a range of autonomous insect-like flying robots.