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Biologically Inspired Optical-Flow Sensing for Altitude Control of Flapping-Wing Microrobots

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4 Author(s)
Duhamel, P.-E.J. ; Sch. of Eng. & Appl. Sci., Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA, USA ; Perez-Arancibia, N.O. ; Barrows, G.L. ; Wood, R.J.

We present the design and fabrication of a 33-mg 1-D optical-flow-based altitude sensor and its integration with a 68-mg flapping-wing flying microrobot. For the first time, an on-board sensor is successfully used to measure altitude for feedback control in a flyer of this size. Both the control strategy and the sensing system are biologically inspired. The control strategy relies on amplitude modulation mediated by optical-flow sensing. The research presented here is a key step toward achieving the goal of complete autonomy for at-scale flying robotic insects, since this demonstrates that strategies for controlling flapping-wing microrobots in vertical flight can rely on optical-flow-based on-board sensors. In order to demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed sensing system and suitability of the combined sensing and control strategies, six experimental cases are presented and discussed here.

Published in:

Mechatronics, IEEE/ASME Transactions on  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 2 )