Chapter

Robotics Research

Volume 100 of the series Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics pp 3-19

Date:

Progress on “Pico” Air Vehicles

  • Robert J. WoodAffiliated withHarvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Email author 
  • , Benjamin FinioAffiliated withHarvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • , Michael KarpelsonAffiliated withHarvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • , Kevin MaAffiliated withHarvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • , Néstor O. Pérez-ArancibiaAffiliated withHarvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • , Pratheev S. SreetharanAffiliated withHarvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • , Hiro TanakaAffiliated withHarvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • , John P. WhitneyAffiliated withHarvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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Abstract

As the characteristic size of a flying robot decreases, the challenges for successful flight revert to basic questions of fabrication, actuation, fluid mechanics, stabilization, and power—whereas such questions have in general been answered for larger aircraft. When developing a flying robot on the scale of a common housefly, all hardware must be developed from scratch as there is nothing “off-the-shelf” which can be used for mechanisms, sensors, or computation that would satisfy the extreme mass and power limitations. This technology void also applies to techniques available for fabrication and assembly of the aeromechanical components: the scale and complexity of the mechanical features requires new ways to design and prototype at scales between macro and MEMS, but with rich topologies and material choices one would expect in designing human-scale vehicles. With these challenges in mind, we present progress in the essential technologies for insect-scale robots, or “pico” air vehicles.