Despite the many impressive examples of human inventiveness, our technological solutions often pale in comparison with the elegance, effectiveness, power efficiency and supreme functionality with which nature has solved so many problems. This is particularly true for the flight of birds: No comparable technical solution of a small, autonomously flying vehicle has yet been demonstrated, despite the many potential applications.
This project proposes, therefore, the development and implementation of the first fully autonomous micro helicopter comparable in size and weight to a small bird. The key challenges of the project include innovative concepts for power sources, sensors, cameras, navigation and helicopter design and their integration into a very compact system. The envisaged fully autonomous micro-helicopter will weigh less than 30g and measure only 10cm in diameter.
The project shall develop and demonstrate innovative approaches and technologies in
(1) system level design and optimization of autonomous micro aerial vehicles,
(2) multifunctional use of components (integration of camera and distance sensor, batteries doubling as structural elements, or a propeller combined with gyroscopic stabilization),
(3) design of 'smart' miniature inertial sensor and omnidirectional vision sensors with polar pixel arrangement,
(4) miniaturized fuel-cells,
(5) miniaturized piezoelectric actuators with enhanced power to weight ratios, and
(6) control and navigation concepts that can cope with limited sensor and processing performance.
The resulting micro-helicopter will represent the fist demonstration of a fully autonomous indoor flying robot of its size and its successful realization will be a landmark achievement in integrated micro/nano technology and micro aerial vehicles.
Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project