Engineers have already managed to build robots that glide, run, and buzz. Now two professors from the University of Maryland Robotics Center have created a robot that is able to fly by flapping its wings independently of one another. Their “Robo Raven” is the result of a decade of prototypes, and it can soar in all types of weather conditions. Before the Robo Raven, most flying machines could only stay in the air below wind speeds of 10 mph. Using its wings to adjust like its living counterpart, the Robo Raven can withstand turbulence – and it can be programmed with motion profiles so that the wings can maintain optimal velocity and balance while in flight.

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So far, University of Maryland professors S.K Gupta and Hugh Bruck have been able to coax aerobatic feats of flying from their Robo Raven robot. After years of attempts and crashes, the team finally constructed a machine with independently flapping wings. Two programmable motors are synchronized to coordinate the bird’s motion. The two actuators on board the Robo Raven required a bigger battery and micro-controller that originally made the contraption too heavy to fly. By using 3D printing and laser cutting techniques to fabricate lightweight polymer parts, the team was able to reduce the overall weight.

The group also developed a way to measure the aerodynamic forces generated while the Robo Raven was in motion in order to develop the most efficient wing design. The Robo Raven is able to dive and roll, and it has even fooled real birds – it’s been followed by animals and at one point it was even attacked by a hawk. Taking biomimicry to new heights, the Robo Raven is launching a new era in robotics and flight engineering.

Via Dvice