Report

A tailless aerial robotic flapper reveals that flies use torque coupling in rapid banked turns

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  14 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6407, pp. 1089-1094
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat0350

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Flying fast and free

Insect flight can be fast and agile, making it hard to study its detailed aerodynamics. Karásek et al. designed an untethered, flapping-wing robot with impressive agility that can mimic fruitfly maneuvers (see the Perspective by Ruffier). They studied the robot's motion during rapid banked turns, which revealed that passive motion through the turn generated yaw torque coupling. This correcting yaw rotation propelled the robot toward the escape heading needed for effective turning.

Science, this issue p. 1089; see also p. 1073

Abstract

Insects are among the most agile natural flyers. Hypotheses on their flight control cannot always be validated by experiments with animals or tethered robots. To this end, we developed a programmable and agile autonomous free-flying robot controlled through bio-inspired motion changes of its flapping wings. Despite being 55 times the size of a fruit fly, the robot can accurately mimic the rapid escape maneuvers of flies, including a correcting yaw rotation toward the escape heading. Because the robot’s yaw control was turned off, we showed that these yaw rotations result from passive, translation-induced aerodynamic coupling between the yaw torque and the roll and pitch torques produced throughout the maneuver. The robot enables new methods for studying animal flight, and its flight characteristics allow for real-world flight missions.

View Full Text