Robots have traditionally been specially designed to perform a single, very specific task, but researchers at Beihang University have said. New robot drone It’s as easy to operate underwater as it is in the air, and features clever and naturally inspired tricks to maximize its range.
When you think of robots, you probably think of one of two versions. A highly capable humanoid that science fiction has promised us, or an ignorant articulated arm that performs repetitive tasks in the factory. The latter approach, more or less what we’ve been doing for decades, is as technology slowly catches up with the imagination of science fiction writers, and robot designers are beginning to develop automata that can perform a variety of actions. .. Boston Dynamics SpotsFor example, use four dog-like legs to navigate different terrains, protect Pompeii ruins overnight, or generate detailed 3D maps of areas that are too dangerous for humans to visit. Perform various missions such as.
The adaptive approach makes it easier for businesses and research institutes to justify the high cost of robots, but what the Biomechanics and Soft Robotics Lab at Beihang University has created is truly unique. Even with highly articulated legs, the Boston Dynamics spot is still limited to land missions. This new drone can perform tasks underwater, in the air, or both, with no changes in between.
For most quadcopter drones, landing means that the pilot needs to wave to rescue it (then most electronic components are replaced). This drone is different. It is completely waterproof and features a series of self-folding propellers that collapse when operated at low speeds underwater, effectively maneuvering the drone underwater. Then, as the drones leave the surface of the water and move into the air, they will grow automatically. Researchers have optimized the drone’s performance so that the water-to-air transition takes about one-third of a second, and the drone can repeat the water-air transition, just as a herd of dolphins pops out of the water. They in a row during the test in about 20 seconds.
Like other electronic devices, the autonomous function of a robot is often limited by the capacity of the battery. This is especially the case for flying drones, where four electric motors constantly rotate and stay in the air. In laboratory settings, we often see advanced robots mounted on cable tethers that provide non-stop power, such as exploring ocean depths and collecting aerial data. Not suitable for designed bots. ..
To dramatically increase the range of this drone and save battery power when traveling to and from the mission site, researchers have turned to the remora, commonly known as the remora, which uses an adhesive disc at the top. Made additional upgrades inspired by it. To hook the vehicle and save energy, bow your head to temporarily attach to other underwater creatures.
A drone that can land to perform targeted observations while maintaining battery life is not a new idea, but like factory robots, it usually uses a mechanism tailored to a particular surface, such as: .. Jointed claws that grab branches Or sticky feet inspired by geckos that stick to the wall. For robotic drones designed with flexibility in mind, researchers wanted a more versatile way to mount them on a variety of surfaces. Very strong grip.
The remora sticky disc was the perfect solution because it has built-in redundancy that allows it to remain attached to the surface even if it is partially touched. Two years ago, one of the researchers and authors of the paper published today, Li Wen, was part of another research project at Beihang University that reverse engineered how remora discs actually work. did.
The study revealed that the remora adhered to a surface very similar to a sucker, with a tightly sealed soft oval ridge of soft tissue. When water is squeezed out of the gap between the remora and its host, suction keeps the remora in place. The surface of the remora disk is covered with rows and rows of ridges called lamellas (similar to the ridges you can feel on the roof of your mouth). host. These lamella ridges also help create a small suction compartment that maintains the seal, even if the large lip of the disc is not. Unlike suckers, which release the grip with a smooth surface when you lift a small portion of the edge, the remora still holds.
The team was able to create an artificial version of the remora suction disc with a four-layer approach. They combine a super-flexible layer at the top with a stiffer structure at the bottom, and a layer with a network of small channels that can expand when pumped full of liquid, engaging with the lamellar structure for suction. Replaced living muscle tissue as a way to further enhance.
The suction mechanism installed on top of the underwater drone allows it to adhere to a variety of surfaces, even if it has a rough texture, is not perfectly flat, or has a smaller surface area than the suction mechanism. Like the remora, the drone, at least in theory, can find an underwater host (one that isn’t immediately scared by a spinning propeller) and ride freely, and only needs to power the suction mechanism. Minimize the consumption of the on-board battery. The same can be done in the air, but the challenge of successfully attaching the drone to another aircraft is immeasurable. Even if the sailplane has a minimum speed of 40 mph, it is a challenging moving target.
A more reasonable use of the suction mechanism is as a way to temporarily park the drone somewhere in an ideal vantage point for long-term observation. Instead of relying on four motors to maintain a particular position in the water while fighting moving currents, the drone sticks to rocks and logs while powering sensors and cameras, turning off the motors. Can be. You can do the same on the waterline by flying a drone and piercing the sides of a skyscraper or underneath a wind turbine nacelle to perform measurements and other data collection without the use of a battery. Motor discharge. It’s still incredibly limited and is a solution to battery technology that avoids the need to repair the battery itself.