MAVs Adopt Beetle Wings to Recover From Midair Collisions

Researchers at Konkuk University have designed a miniaturized micro air vehicle inspired by a rhinoceros beetles' wing structure.

Cabe Atwell
2 months ago โ€ข Robotics / Sensors
The flying robot with its foldable wings. (๐Ÿ“ท: H. Vu Phan)

Researchers at Konkuk University have developed a micro air vehicle (MAV) capable of recovering flight in midair after colliding with objects. The MAV's unique design is modeled after rhinoceros beetles, specifically their forewings used for protection and their hindwings for flight. Their extensive research has shown that the beetles can maintain flight even after midair collisions, an issue that has downed conventional drones.

To gain that insight, the researchers studied the rhino beetles while in flight using high-speed cameras and found the key to maintaining flight is due in part to the beetle's hindwing morphology. Each wing has an origami-like construction, which folds in during resting periods, and extends for flight. Each wing also snaps in place when its forewings are deployed, and noted that the wings would partially fold when coming into contact with an object, acting as a kind of shock absorber. After the collision, the wings extend back into flight mode, and the beetle resumes flying.

Another exciting feature they found is if the beetle collides with a stationary object, such as a pole, it will use its legs and wings to recover and resume flight. Their findings allowed them to create a flapping-wing MAV that can maintain flight after coming in contact with other MAVs or objects. Although it's a great leap forward for insect-inspired drones, the design can't be ported over to hobbyist platforms that rely on stiff rotors to maintain flight.

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