The Fluid Mechanics Laboratory and the Swartz Lab at Brown University, have been carrying out a remarkable research about the understanding of in-vivo Bat flight aerodynamics. Using wing-tunnel testing and performing motion capture by tracking markers located along the bat body and wings, high-speed cameras are used to provide an insight of bat flight behavior.
In collaboration with Brown University, this research is oriented towards the development of a biological inspired bat robot platform, that allows to reproduce the amazing maneuverability of these flying mammals. The highly maneuverability is achieved by reproducing the flapping and morphing capabilities of their wing-skeleton structure. This structure is composed by several joints and a membrane that generates the required lift forces to fly.
To mimmic the muscular system that moves the joints of the wing-bones, Shape Memory Alloys (SMA) NiTi wires are used as artificial-muscles. Several challenges in controlling this SMA-based actuation system are regarded in this research.
In conclusion, the challenges to develop this bio-inspired Micro Aerial Bat-like Robot are:
- ๏Modeling bat kinematics, dynamics and aerodynamics.
- ๏ Understanding flapping and morphing wings.
- ๏Smart material (SMA) driven actuator system that mimics the functionality of the bat’s relevant muscles.
- ๏ Biomechanics design of BatBoT.
- ๏ Advanced control for autonomous flight.