Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

MAV

The Urbana-Champaign MAV features articulated wings with movable trailing edge flaps

Although winged micro air vehicles (MAVs) are pretty impressive in free flight, one of the skills that has proven difficult for them to master is the bird-like perched landing. Aerospace engineers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, however, have now achieved it – they’ve developed an MAV that is capable of landing on an outstretched human hand.  Read More

Boeing has demonstrated swarm technology using two ScanEagles (pictured) and a Procerus Un...

Individually, insects have proven a deep well of inspiration for robotics engineers looking to mimic designs refined over millions of years of evolution. Now Boeing has demonstrated swarm technology for reconnaissance missions using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that is similar to the way insects communicate and work together as an intelligent group. Potential uses for the technology include search-and-rescue missions and identifying enemy threats ahead of ground patrols.  Read More

Researchers inspired by the wings of swifts and swftlets have developed an experimental Mi...

As I look out of my office window and watch the heart-stopping acrobatics of feeding swifts, it's not difficult to see why so many aircraft designers find inspiration in nature - from birds to bats to insects. Now it's the turn of the swift. Hoping to demonstrate the endurance and performance benefits of a combined flapping and gliding approach to Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) design, researchers have developed an experimental flyer capable of combining both unsteady and steady aerodynamics.  Read More

Alexander Alexeev and Hassan Masoud, with their computer model of flapping-wing flight (Ph...

Imagine insect-like aircraft capable of military or civilian surveillance missions, impossible for current fixed-wing or rotary-wing vehicles – tiny flying machines able to access buildings reduced to rubble by earthquakes, or act as a fly-on-the-wall in the meeting rooms of enemy leaders. Such aircraft may be one step closer to realization, thanks to a breakthrough in our understanding of how flapping wings work.  Read More

Scientists hope to emulate the honeybee's aerial navigational skills through human technol...

Day after day, honeybees are able to travel back and forth between a food source and their hive, even in a constantly-changing environment. Given that the insects have relatively small brains, scientists have determined that they rely chiefly on vision and hard-wired visual processing abilities to achieve such a feat. To better understand that process, scientists from the Cognitive Interaction Technology Center of Excellence at Bielefeld University, Germany, have created an artificial honeybee’s eye. Using the device, they hope to unlock the secrets of the insects’ sensing, processing and navigational skills, and apply them to human technology such as micro air vehicles (MAVs).  Read More

Mirko Kovac's perching mechanism, mounted on a micro glider

A young robotics engineer has developed a perching mechanism that could be invaluable to the field of Micro Air Vehicles, or MAVs. Mirko Kovac, of Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), envisions a system wherein swarms of tiny robotic gliders would be deployed over scenes of disasters, such as forest fires or earthquakes. The gliders would fly straight into the sides of vantage points, such as tall buildings or trees, whereupon they would perch on that surface and transmit data to remote observers via cameras or other sensors. They could even free themselves, to fly on to another location.  Read More

AV has released video of its hovering Nano Air Vehicle

Not long ago we brought you an article about a tiny ‘nano air vehicle’ (NAV) that hovers by flapping its wings. Its creator, AeroVironment, has now released a video capturing details of the craft's impressive non-restricted flying capabilities.  Read More

AeroVironment's Wasp III UAS

AeroVironment has been awarded $4.6 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a new generation small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) with "perch-and-stare" surveillance capabilities. The micro-air vehicle will be based on the company's smallest existing UAS platform - Wasp.  Read More

The DelFly Micro

July 28, 2008 How often have you thought, “I’d like to be a fly on the wall in that room”. Well, a team at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands is hard at work trying to make that desire a reality by developing a Micro Air Vehicle (MAV), which they claim is the smallest flying, camera carrying ornithopter in the world. The DelFly Micro weighs just 3 grams and measures 10 cm from wing tip to wing tip. It has a range of 50 meters and is powered by a 30 mAh lithium polymer battery, which provides enough power for three minutes of fight time. To keep the weight of the unit down the wings are made from Mylar foil, while the body and frame is made up from carbon and balsawood.  Read More

AV's hand-launched WASP - much smaller unmanned aerial systems are on the way

May 29, 2008 Unmanned aerial vehicles represent one emerging technology that has delivered as promised over the last decade, achieving critical relevance in battlefields situations where they can perform both reconnaissance and combat roles without putting humans in the the line of fire. In addition to the rapid growth and development that has occurred in relation to larger, weapons capable craft, smaller systems have also proved their worth, and the latest announcement from AeroVironment (AV) is further evidence that this sector will continue to flourish. The company which has already established unmanned micro air vehicle (MAV) programs - including the Raven and Wasp III - has now received funding to continue development of an even smaller scale platform dubbed the Nano Air Vehicle (NAV).  Read More

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