Orientation stabilization in a bioinspired bat-robot using integrated mechanical intelligence and control

Micro aerial vehicles could be used to make residential spaces safer and more efficient; however, current aerial robots may be dangerous for humans and have limited operation time. A recent study explores the possibility of mimicking bat wings to create safe, agile, and energy-efficient drones.

Illustration of Northeastern University’s Aerobat. Image credit: Eric Sihite et al, arXiv:2103.15943

Bats can mobilize as many as forty joints during a single wingbeat; therefore, closed-loop feedback roles cannot copy bat flight. The researchers propose a novel control design framework incorporating morphological intelligence. Feedback-driven components are used to adjust the robot’s gait through a change in morphology.

The framework is adapted on the most recent morphing week design, the Aerobat. It uses computational structure, fabricated monolithically using both rigid and flexible materials. The results show that the proposed framework is able to stabilize Aerobat’s longitudinal dynamics.

Our goal in this work is to expand the theory and practice of robot locomotion by addressing critical challenges associated with the robotic biomimicry of bat aerial locomotion. Bats wings exhibit fast wing articulation and can mobilize as many as 40 joints within a single wingbeat. Mimicking bat flight can be a significant ordeal and the current design paradigms have failed as they assume only closed-loop feedback roles through sensors and conventional actuators while ignoring the computational role carried by morphology. In this paper, we propose a design framework called Morphing via Integrated Mechanical Intelligence and Control (MIMIC) which integrates small and low energy actuators to control the robot through a change in morphology. In this paper, using the dynamic model of Northeastern University’s Aerobat, which is designed to test the effectiveness of the MIMIC framework, it will be shown that computational structures and closed-loop feedback can be successfully used to mimic bats stable flight apparatus.

Research paper: Sihite, E., Lessieur, A., Dangol, P., Singhal, A., and Ramezani, A., “Orientation stabilization in a bioinspired bat-robot using integrated mechanical intelligence and control”, 2021. Link: https://arxiv.org/abs/2103.15943

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