Humans are constantly looking at ways to level up our mechanical friends, robots. Teaching them how to sort through recyclables, hike, reproduce independently, and the biggest challenge of all, opening doors. Scientists are teaming together with computer algorithms and advanced mechanics to create the robots of the future.
This time, researchers have created a new type of flying robot that diminishes the need for motors gears and other complex transmission systems. These parts previously added complexity, weight, and undesired dynamic effects on overall flying performance.
Researchers, from the University of Bristol, invented a more advanced system, called the Liquid-amplified Zipping Actuator (LAZA), that manages to overcome these problems. Inspired by bees and other flying insects, the team achieved a flapping mechanism even more powerful than their original influence.
“With the LAZA, we apply electrostatic forces directly on the wing, rather than through a complex, inefficient transmission system. This leads to better performance, simpler design, and will unlock a new class of low-cost, lightweight flapping micro-air vehicles for future applications,” stated the lead author of the paper Dr. Tim Helps.
The paper, published in Science Robotics, discusses how the LAZA system can deliver a consistent rate of flapping over one million cycles, showing the robots reliability over long haul flights.
Professor Jonathan Rossiter, head of Bristol’s Engineering Faculty stated: “Making smaller and better performing flapping wing microrobots is a huge challenge. LAZA is an important step toward autonomous flying robots that could be as small as insects.”
He also added that robots could “perform environmentally critical tasks such as plant pollination and exciting emerging roles such as finding people in collapsed buildings.” Applications of these incredible machines spread far and wide, from autonomous inspection of off-shore wind turbines, to search and rescue missions.
You can view a video of these insect-sized flying robots of the future here.
Source study: Science Robotics – Liquid-amplified zipping actuators for micro-air vehicles with transmission-free flapping