PigeonBot is the first robotic bird with feathered wings that can move

18 Janvier, 2020, 00:42 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • A gannet lands at Bass Rock off the coast of Dunbar

According to Lentink, the movements of the bird's wings are more efficient than those of the aircraft's wings.

Mechanical engineering professor David Lentink challenged some of his graduate students to "dissect the biomechanics of the avian wing transformation mechanism and embody these ideas in a transforming biohybrid robot that features real flight feathers", taking the common pigeon as a model., whose resistance Lentink admires. "Birds are simultaneously changing their wing plan shape parameters - including momentum, wingspan, and area - in a way that has proven to be particularly hard to embody with robot control".

That's what the researchers who built PigeonBot, a robotic pigeon with actual feathered wings, seem to be betting. Turns out the way birds fly is really not very well understood, as the relationship between the dynamic wing shape and positions of individual feathers are super complex. The orientation of those feathers, which aid the bird in flight, help determine the wing's shape.

And they found that the structures were present in most species of birds other than owls, which allowed them to fly more silently.

Researchers from the University of Stanford in the United States used 40 pigeon feathers to design the bot's wings, which were connected to artificial limbs, consisting of "wrists" and "fingers", using elastic bands. "I love airplanes too, but it's just not like a bird". Passenger jets, of course, don't need to dive or roll on short notice, but drones and other small craft might find the ability extremely useful.

The elastic ligament that connects the feathers to the skeleton all the feathers follow the wrist and finger movement automatically.

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"Since the Wright brothers, aerospace engineers have tried to create wings that can change shape, or morph, as well as birds can morph their wings", said Lentink. In flight tests, manipulation of the wrist and fingers initiated stable turn maneuvers at tight angles, which the researchers said provided some of the first evidence that birds primarily use these digits to steer in flight.

It was locked as the wing expanded, again loose as the wing contracted, reinforcing the extended wing and making it resistant to disturbance.

The researchers say the findings could inspire new kinds of morphing aircraft.

The research is published as two separate papers in the journals Science and Science Robotics. Moreover, they are also working on a new bio-inspired robot inspired by falcons which may have legs and claws, according to reports.

One of the students analyzed the skeletal motion and found that only the finger and wrist motion needs to be emulated.

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