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Tiny Mavs May Someday Explore and Detect Environmental Hazards

Harvard Microbotic Fly

A recent prototype of Harvard's Microrobotic Fly has a three-centimeter wingspan.

Credit: Harvard Microrobotics Lab

The next phase of high-performance micro air vehicles (MAVs) for the U.S. Air Force could involve insect-sized robots for monitoring and exploring hazardous environments. "We are developing a suite of capabilities which we hope will lead to MAVs that exceed the capabilities of existing small aircraft," says Harvard University researcher Robert Wood.

Wood's team is studying how wing design can impact performance for an insect-size, flapping-wing vehicle. The research also will shape the devices' assembly, power supply, and control systems.

The team is constructing wings and moving them at high frequencies to recreate trajectories that are similar to an insect's. The researchers are able to measure multiple-force components, and monitor fluid flow around the wings flapping in excess of 100 times per second. The team also is conducting high-speed stereoscopic motion tracking, force measurements, and flow visualization to better understand these systems.

From Air Force Print News
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