Advertisement

Springy Shells, Pliant Plates and Minimal Motors: Abstracting the Insect Thorax to Drive a Micro-Air Vehicle

  • Robin J. WoottonEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

The skeletons of the wing-bearing segments of advanced insects show unexploited potential in the design of biomimetic flapping MAVs. They consist of thin, springy, composite shells, cyclically deformed by large, enclosed muscles to flap the wings as first-order levers over lateral fulcra. The wings are light, flexible, membrane-covered frameworks, with no internal muscles, whose deformations in flight are encoded in their structure; they are ‘smart’ aerofoils. Both thorax and wings are apparently resonant structures, storing energy elastically, and tuned to deform appropriately at their operating frequencies. The form of the basic wing stroke is determined structurally, but is modulated by a series of controlling muscles, contracting tonically to alter the positions of skeletal components over the course of several stroke cycles. Fuel economy through lightness, low wing inertia and cyclic energy storage are all desirable in a flapping MAV. Furthermore, the insects’ peculiar combination of structural automation with modulation has great potential in achieving versatile kinematics with relatively few actuators. Aspects of the thoracic functioning of an advanced fly can be simulated in a simple card flapping model, combining the properties of a closed four-bar linkage with the elastic lateral buckling of a domed shell. Instructions for building this are included. Addition of further degrees of freedom, along with biomimetic smart wings, would seem to allow other crucial kinematic variables to be introduced and controlled with minimum actuation, and ways are suggested how this might be achieved in a sophisticated mechanism.

Keywords

Aerodynamic Force Insect Wing Wing Base Stroke Frequency Lateral Buckling 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. 1.
    Avadhanula, S., Wood, R.J., Steltz, E. Yan, J., Fearing, R.S.: Lift force improvements for the Micromechanical Flying Insect. IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems 1350–1356 (October 2003)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Banala, S., Agrawal, S.K.: Design and optimization of a mechanism for out-of-plane insect wing-like motion with twist. Transactions ASME, Journal of Mechanical Design 127, 817–824 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Betts, C.R.: The kinematics of Heteroptera in free flight. Journal of Zoology B 1, 303–315 (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Conn, A.T., Burgess, S.C., Ling, S.C.: Design of a parallel crank-rocker flapping mechanism for insect-inspired micro air vehicles. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers C. Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science 221(10), 1211–1222 (2007)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dickinson, M.H., Lehmann, E.O., Sane, S.P.: Wing rotation and the aerodynamic basis of insect flight. Science 284, 1954–1960 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dudley, R.: The Biomechanics of Insect Flight. Princeton University Press. Princeton, N.J. (2000)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ellington, C.P.: The aerodynamics of hovering insect flight. III. Kinematics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London B 305, 41–78 (1984)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ellington, C.P.: The aerodynamics of hovering insect flight. IV Aerodynamic mechanisms. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London B 305, 79–113 (1984)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ennos, A.R.: A comparative study of the flight mechanism of Diptera. Journal of Experimental Biology 127, 355–372 (1987)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ennos, A.R.: The kinematics and aerodynamics of the free flight of some Diptera. Journal of Experimental Biology 142, 49–85 (1989)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ennos, A.R.: Mechanical behaviour in torsion of insect wings, blades of grass, and other cambered structures. Procedings of the Royal Society London B 259, 15–18 (1995)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Galinski, C., Zbikowski, R.: Insect-like flapping wing mechanism based on a double spherical Scotch yoke. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 2(3), 223–235 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Greenwalt, C.H.: The wings of insects and birds as mechanical oscillators. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 104, 605–611 (1960)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Khan, Z.A., Agrawal, S.K.: Design of flapping mechanisms based on transverse bending mechanisms in insects. Proceedings of the 2006 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Orlando, Florida, 2323–2328 (2006)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Madangopal, R., Khan, Z.A., Agrawal, S.K.: Biologically inspired design of small flapping wing air vehicles using four-bar mechanisms and quasi-steady aerodynamics. Journal of Mechanical Design 127(4), 809–816 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Madangopal, R., Khan, Z.A., Agrawal, S.K.: Energetics-based design of small flapping-wing micro air vehicles. IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics 11(4), 433–438 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    McIntosh, S.H., Agrawal, S.K., Khan, Z.A.: Design of a mechanism for biaxial rotation of a wing for a hovering vehicle. IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics 11(2), 145–153 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Mukerjee, S., Sanghi, S.: Design of a six-link mechanism for a micro air vehicle. Defence Science Journal 54, 271–276 (2004)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nachtigall, W.: Mechanics and aerodynamics of flight. In: G.J. Goldsworthy, C.H. Wheeler (eds.) Insect Flight, pp. 1–28. CRC Press Inc. Boca Baton (1989)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Neville, A.C.: Biology of Fibrous Composites: Development Beyond the Cell Membrane. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K. (1993)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Newman, D.J.S., Wootton, R.J.: An approach to the mechanics of pleating in dragonfly wings. Journal of Experimental Biology 125, 361–372 (1986)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Steltz, E., Wood, R.J., Avadhanula, S., Fearing, R.S.: Characterization of the Micromechanical Flying Insect by optical position sensing. Proceedings of the 2005 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Barcelona 1–4, 1252–1257 (2005)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Vincent, J.F.V.: Insect cuticle: a paradigm for natural composites. In: J.F.V. Vincent, J.D. Currey (eds.) The Mechanical Properties of Biological Materials, pp. 183–210. Symposia of the Society for Experimental Biology 34. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK (1980)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Vogel, S.: Cats’ Paws and Catapults. 382 pp. W.W. Norton and Company New York (1998)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Wakeling, J.M., Ellington, C.P.: Dragonfly flight. II. Velocities, accelerations and kinematics of flapping flight. Journal of Experimental Biology 200, 557–582 (1997)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Weis-Fogh, T.: Quick estimates of flight fitness in hovering animals, including novel mechanisms for lift production. Journal of Experimental Biology 59, 169–230 (1973)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Wilmott, A.P., Ellington, C.P. The mechanics of flight in the hawkmoth Manduca sexta. I. Kinematics of hovering and forward flight. Journal of Experimental Biology 200, 2705–2722 (1997).Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Wisser, A., Nachtigall, W.: Functional-morphological investigations on the flight muscles and their insertion points in the blowfly Calliphora erythrocephala (Insecta, Diptera). Zoomorphology 104, 188–195 (1984)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Wisser, A., Nachtigall, W.: Mechanism of wing rotating regulation in Calliphora (Insecta, Diptera). Zoomorphology 111, 111 (1987).Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Wood, R.J.: Design, fabrication and analysis of a 3 DOF, 3 cm flapping-wing MAV. IEEE/RSJ IROS, San Diego, CA, (October 2007).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Wood, R.J.: The first take off of a biologically-inspired at-scale robotic insect. IEEE Transactions on Robotics 24 (2), 341–347 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Wootton, R.J.: Support and deformability in insect wings. Journal of Zoology London 193, 447–468 (1981)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Wootton, R.J.: Functional morphology of insect wings. Annual Review of Entomology Palo Alto 37, 113–140 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Wootton, R.J.: Leading edge section and asymmetric twisting in the wings of flying butterflies. Journal of Experimental Biology 180, 105–117 (1993)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Wootton, R.J., Herbert, R.C., Young, P.G., Evans, K.E.: Approaches to the structural modelling of insect wings. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London B 358, 1577–1587 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Zbikowski, R., Galinski, C., Pedersen, C.B.: Four-bar linkage mechanism for insectlike flapping wings in hover: Concept and an outline of its realization. Journal of Mechanical Design 127, 817–824 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BiosciencesExeter UniversityExeterUK

Personalised recommendations