Ornithopter University of Maryland Can Do Backflips and Mislead Birds of Prey

    Ornithopters or flywheels - aircraft, like birds flapping their wings to create traction, have long been known. But the vast majority of these devices are capable of only a beautiful imitation of bird flight . Both of their wings are driven by a single engine and wave simultaneously, while the birds are able to control the wings independently of each other, which allows them to perform complex maneuvers.

    Ornithopter Robo Raven , created at the University of Maryland's Robotics Center, has fully independent actuators for each wing. This allows him to perform complex aerobatic figures, which previously were not capable of indulgence.

    Creating such a robot turned out to be a very non-trivial task. Two main engines instead of one and the need to use a microcontroller for complex coordination of movements greatly complicate the apparatus. It was possible to make the robo-raven fly only with the use of 3D printing and laser cutting of the most lightweight parts and sophisticated modeling of wing aerodynamics, which made it possible to achieve the optimal combination of thrust and lift in all wing operation modes.

    Robo-raven can fly at a speed of up to 16 kilometers per hour, make barrels, somersaults and steep dives. If the first prototypes usually had to be repaired after hitting the ground, the latest versions of the raven suffer from hawk attacks during outdoor trials.

    According to the project manager, Professor Satyandra Gupta, such robots can find practical application in agriculture, environmental monitoring or can be used for video surveillance.

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