Military Review

The robot has mastered the flight of dragonflies

The German company Festo has demonstrated its latest development - the BionicOpter UAV, which is trying to reproduce the flight of a dragonfly.

The robot has mastered the flight of dragonflies

The drone, of course, is still larger than the natural prototype. Nevertheless, it is the most advanced UAV, flying in the manner of a dragonfly. (Here and below is the photo of Festo.)

From the “head” to the tail, the robot has 44 cm, and the wingspan is 63 cm at all. Of course, there are no such giants among modern dragonflies, but the fossil representatives of these predatory insects reached much larger sizes. Light weight - only 175 g - is achieved by the skillful use of lightweight materials: the wings are a carbon fiber frame with a polyester membrane stretched over it; the remaining materials are aluminium, ABS-based tripolymer and expanded polyamide. For driving drone using an ARM processor. The role of the muscles that control the head and tail is played by four bundles of nitinol (nickel-titanium alloy) fibers that can contract (“shape memory”) when heated by passing an electric current through them. The wings are driven more familiar to robots electric motor.
The choice of the frequency of strokes and the changeable angle of attack of the wings is fully automated, so that the operator (using, for example, a smartphone) controls only the steering. A pair of lithium-polymer batteries was chosen as a power source. According to the manufacturer, robostrekoza can quite perfectly copy the flight methods of ordinary dragonflies, including moving backwards and flapping their wings to 15 – 20 once a second. In principle, the words about the perfection of flight, said by the developers, you can believe:

However, with all the advancement of the drone there is something to finish. Thus, the most highly maneuverable flight mode is not shown, with overloads to 9g, in which the dragonflies first flap their hind wings and only then with their front wings:

The flight demonstrated by BionicOpter is characteristic of high-speed movement used by a dragonfly not so often.

In addition, the video shows that the wings of BionicOpter, despite the carbon fiber frame, lacked (in comparison with the natural analogue) stiffness. Dragonflies that do not have carbon fiber and polyester, but have pterostigma, clearly have tougher wings, which can not but affect their aerodynamics:

But let's hide our skepticism: the human experience in copying the aerodynamics of four-winged insects is insignificant for the time being, and its lion’s share belongs to Festo. Taking into account the significance of the demonstrated bionic achievements, it is logical to assume that in the near future, developers will select the most difficult flight regimes of real dragonflies.

Data on the maximum speed achieved is not specified, although, judging by the video, they clearly do not exceed 50 km / h, which characterize the prototype insect. Recall that Festo is considered the designer of bird-like drones widely used by the US intelligence services (more precisely, only one of them is used so far) for reconnaissance in Pakistan and Iran - areas where conventional (uncamouflaged) American Drones cause some bewilderment, often turning into shooting and the active use of air defense. At the same time, although the dragonfly robot is too small for long-range reconnaissance, there is no doubt that with some refinement of the appearance and further miniaturization, such a drone will turn out to be a real find.

Based on Festo

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  1. Delink
    Delink April 2 2013 07: 38
    To perfection is still far, but impressive.
  2. Boot under the carpet
    Boot under the carpet April 2 2013 07: 52
    Quote: Delink
    To perfection is still far, but impressive.
    I think new investments will not take long and the project will develop.
    1. Kyrgyz
      Kyrgyz April 2 2013 13: 06
      Quote: Boot under the carpet
      I think new investments will not take long and the project will develop.

      Investments are made for a project involving returns and not for the curiosity and fantasies of engineers, UAV scouts are simpler and more functional than this fun
  3. shurup
    shurup April 2 2013 08: 55
    Development of the level of the Soviet SUT (station for young technicians) with financing of the project, which would be enough for the entire budget of SUT.
    Without ICE, it has no practical value. A one-time option is much more expensive than gold.
  4. USNik
    USNik April 2 2013 10: 26
    American drones cause some bewilderment, often turning into shooting and the active use of air defense.

    Uh, I don’t think that a dragonfly-shaped UAV will not cause fire from a bearded man. For this, it’s generally more logical to use some cormorant there or an eagle. tongue
  5. lelikas
    lelikas April 2 2013 10: 28
    All the same, this is a very expensive toy ,,, and while the Chinese helicopter for 1t.r. maybe more.
  6. Dyyx
    Dyyx April 2 2013 10: 53
    I want to note that UAVs of this type are also being developed by us. Take, for example, the development of the Moscow Aviation Institute, where a 4-year student of 15 cm UAVs flying at a speed of 50 km \ hour for more than 30 minutes can freeze and sharply change the direction of flight, resembles a May bug with a video camera from a hundredth telephone and a 10-meter fountain pen.
  7. Dyyx
    Dyyx April 2 2013 11: 01
    And the most interesting thing is that this UAV is made from didoles of Chinese helicopters, it has a very original way of flight, shape and control method.
    It's just that no one needs it.
  8. in reserve
    April 2 2013 12: 38
    Even the video does not show. request
  9. Honory
    Honory 26 March 2016 11: 49
    Well done boys. But these are only the first steps.