Bio-inspired flapping bird robot and flying studies

2016 Update

Ornithopter: Flapping wings robot
Brian Baggaley, Jourdan McKenna, Daniel H Sanderson, and Fredrick Wight
Primary Advisor: Marko Popovic (PH/RBE/BME)

WPI Popovic Labs at Cambridge Science Festival 2016 , April 20, 2016

2015 Update

Ornithopter testbed to discover forces produced by flapping wing movement
Carlos Berdeguer, Hanna Schmidtman, and Austin Waid-Jones
Primary Advisor: Marko Popovic (PH/RBE/BME)
Co-advisor: Cadgas Onal (ME, RBE)

WPI Popovic Labs, Cambridge Science Festival 2015 (Robotics Zoo), April 20, 2015

Fluidic Muscle Ornithopter
Alphan Canga, Michael Kurt Delia, Alexander M Hyman, Angela Marie Nagelin
Primary Advisor: Marko Popovic (PH/RBE/BME)
Co-advisor: Cadgas Onal (ME, RBE)

2014 Update

Test Bed for Flapping Wing Robotics
Chris Overton, Jesus Chung, Tyler Pietri, Alexandra Beando, Kevin Ramirez
Primary Advisor: Marko Popovic (PH/RBE/BME)
Co-advisor: Stephen Nestinger (ME/RBE)

In the news: MOVIE from Cambridge Science Festival
Wing team at CSF'14.
Popovic group CSF14.

"...Ornithopters, bio-inspired systems that utilize flapping wing flight to generate lift, are a growing field of robotics with a wide range of applications. There are currently no successful large scale hovering ornithopters over 2kg in existence. Continuing from last year’s MQP, this project developed a test bed that can effectively examine ornithopter designs and further flapping robotics research. The realization of the test bed was guided by a theoretical model developed in MATLAB. Utilizing load cells, cameras, and a LabVIEW interface, the test bed allows for the examination of different wing designs and wing motion. ..."

2013 and before

Small 2.5kg Ornithopter Flapping (December 2012).
[click on image to see movie]
22 kg Ornithopter Manual Charging of Wing Muscles (March 2013).
[click on image to see movie]
29kg motorized Ornithopter Table Top Hopping (April 2013).
[click on image to see movie]
29 kg motorized Ornithopter Tethered Asynchronous Flapping Test 4 (April 2013).
[click on image to see movie]
29 kg motorized Ornithopter Tethered Asynchronous Flapping Test 5 (April 2013).
[click image to see movie]

Abstract (2013):

Bird flying has numerous advantageous over conventional plane or helicopter flying. Some birds can attain almost vertical takeoff, perform agile dynamic maneuvers in air, fly at rather slow speeds and utilize environmental conditions in an energy efficient manner.

The first prototype of biologically inspired robot bird has 1.5 m wing span and can reach 2.5 Hz flapping frequency. Second more advanced and larger prototype, that became operational in March 2013, has larger wing span, flaps even faster and it is expected to lift a heavy load.

According to our theoretical calculations bird can lift about 100kg load for wings with length L=3m and width W=2m each and wing angular speed of 4.7 rad/sec which corresponds (in a small angle approximation) to power output of about 7 horsepower (hp) per wing. The current ordinary motorcycle engines are rated to 75 hp or 100 hp. Having in mind that energy demanding takeoff phase may take only couple of seconds and that bird will then enter less energy demanding gliding phase, the intelligent flying may prove to be energy efficient and fast mean of transportation with relatively small energy cost per distance travelled.

The overall mass of the system could be minimized by utilizing the One-To-Many (OTM) principle (linear OTM and rotary OTM) such that energy of single motor is stored, over longer period of time, and then released to several mechanical degrees of freedom, over shorter period of time.

Study of wing flapping induced lift forces created primarily by air drag (i.e. not by pressure gradient): experiments involve various flapping strategies, speeds and wing geometries/architectures (e.g. air valve, i.e. openings embedded in wings, utilized to differentiate up from down movements). Parameters of the theoretical model are fitted to best match experimental results. The numerical simulation based on theoretical model is subsequently used to estimate design parameters for the advanced robot bird prototype.

Publications and Presentations:

1. B. R. Seo and M. B. Popovic, "Flying Comparison based on Power Metrics ” submitted to AIAA Journal March 2014.
(Minimal power per weight added with air speed has been compared based on the aerodynamic contributions of form drag, pressure difference, and skin friction. Aeroelasticity will be addressed elsewhere.)

2. N. Deisadze, W. C. Jo,B. R. Seo (co-advisor S. Nestinger and major advisor M. B. Popovic), Toward Biologically Inspired Human-Carrying Ornithopter Robot Capable of Hover ; WPI, April 29, 2013.(MQP Report)

3. B. R. Seo, N. Deisadze, W. C. Jo, T. Hunt, S. Nestinger and M. B. Popovic, Toward Biologically Inspired Human-Carrying Ornithopter Robot Capable of Hover ; WPI MQP Presentation Day, April 19, 2013.(POSTER)

Current Researchers:

Marko B. Popovic

Past Researchers:

Brian Baggaley, Alexandra Beando, Carlos Berdeguer, Alphan Canga, Jesus Chung, Nicholas Deisadze, Michael Kurt Delia, Alexander M Hyman, Woo Chan Jo, Jourdan McKenna, Angela Marie Nagelin, Stephen Nestinger, Cagdas Onal, Philip D. O'Sullivan, Chris Overton, Tyler Pietri, Kevin Ramirez, Daniel H Sanderson, Hanna Schmidtman, Bo Rim Seo, Austin Waid-Jones, Fredrick Wight