When a ladybug flies, its wings will bounce off in a tenth of a second, faster than in the blink of an eye. Once deployed, these wings will remain open, allowing them to flap quickly without folding or buckling.
These characteristics make the colorful little beetles an important source of inspiration for flying robots, said kyu Jin CHO, director of the soft robot research center of Seoul National University, South Korea. He and his colleagues built a robot that uses a pair of wings to fly and lock quickly like a real ladybug.
The wings designed by his team are strong during flight, but once the robot lands, it can be folded like origami. These lightweight and compact wings can make future versions of robots ideal for search, rescue or reconnaissance missions.
Ladybugs are not the only insects that can tightly fold their hind wings when not in use. “But unlike Ladybug wings, their opening speed is not fast.” the key to the rapid take-off of insects is that the special vein on their wings has a slightly curved shape, which can enable them to store elastic energy when bending, and then release it when the wings pop up. The curved veins can also keep the wing stiff and stable in flight, which is similar to keeping the tape straight when extended.
He and his colleagues built 13 inch fabric wings from artificial plastic veins and attached them to robot insects previously designed to jump or crawl. The vein can expand within 116 milliseconds and can withstand 150 times its own weight without bending.
Cho said, “because of its curved shape, it will lock naturally when unfolding, so it can bear very heavy weight.” “if it is just a flat surface, it will bend immediately, but because it has this curved shape, it is much stronger.”
The researchers tested one of the remote-controlled robots by instructing it to jump off the roof, whipping its wings to spread in mid air and slide to the ground. They threw another robot on the second floor of the building. After sliding to the ground, the robot spreads its wings again and crawls along the ground. The team also found that the design can be adapted to the manufacture of robots with flapping wings.
This origami style design is not the first. Other researchers have built similar devices with deployed components, including solar panels of spacecraft. However, these previous devices used rigid plates that could not be opened quickly. Cho and his team broke away from this mold by creating a wing frame that bends when opened and flattens when folded.
“I think we are the first company that can really store energy and then really quickly open itself without additional components,” he said. “The structure itself is used as a spring.”
This means that the ladybug inspired wings can be folded neatly, making the robot more portable and easier for people or UAVs to carry. Once deployed, these robots will also have less noise than traditional UAVs.
Around the world, researchers are building a biologically inspired robot that flies like bats, insects or birds.
Alireza ramezani, a robot expert at Northeastern University, said: “the application is not very new, but the way they try to integrate Origami Design into this biologically inspired robot is very interesting.” t “in a sense, this is promising. It is expected to enable us to create biologically inspired, simpler, lighter and more responsive robots.”
However, origami robots also have some disadvantages, he said. They can only be folded into a limited number of shapes, which limits the motion that the robot can perform.
Joe said that a special advantage of the ladybug robot is that it can fold it up by folding its wings, so that the robot can jump or crawl when not in the air. He plans to upgrade the next generation of robots controlled by artificial intelligence so that they can navigate more autonomously.
Responsible editor; zl