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BPN826: Autonomous Flying Microrobots

Project ID BPN826
Start Date Thu 2016-Jan-28 12:06:33
Last Updated Tue 2017-Aug-15 10:24:15
Abstract Even as autonomous flying drones enter the mainstream, there has been no strong push for miniaturization by industry. Among the state of the art academic research on pico air vehicles, the majority has focused on biomimetic flight mechanisms (e.g. flapping wings). This project looks to develop a new microfabricated transduction mechanism for flying microrobots with the goal of opening up the application space beyond that allowed by the industry-standard quadcoptor. The proposed mechanism, electrohydrodynamic (EHD) force, functions silently and with no moving parts, directly converting ion current to induced air flow. Microfabricated silicon electrodes are currently being used to create devices with thrust to weight ratios in excess of 15. Microrobots with four individually addressable thrusters have been assembled that mass about 10mg and measure less than 2cm on a side, with the capability of takeoff while tethered to a power supply. Rudimentary attitude control has been shown by selective actuation of two of the four thrusters. Current work is exploring methods to decrease the operating voltage of the robot, improve fabrication and assembly repeatability, and add on-board sensing. Ultimately, integration with a low power control and communications platform will yield a truly autonomous flying microrobot powered by ion thrusters the ionocraft.
Status Continuing
Funding Source BSAC Member Fees
IAB Research Area Physical Sensors & Devices
Researcher(s) Daniel S. Drew, Craig Schindler
Advisor(s) Kristofer S.J. Pister
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