Charalambos Vourtsis, together with colleagues from the Ecole Federal Polytechnic of Lausanne, developed a flying robot with retractable wings. The design looks like a beetle.
Coleoptera beetles have a basic pair of wings, as well as special elytra that protect the insect from damage. But scientists have proven that such an external device also helps to increase the lifting force of the insect, as well as increase the permissible angle of attack at which stall does not occur. The latter is an aviation term that means that an object can drastically change its spatial position.
The authors of the new work decided to use this knowledge and create a robot with elytra. The device has a folding wing, consisting of two sections on each side, and elytra covering them.
They are assembled and deployed by servomotors in a split second. And at the rear, the drone has two push screws that tilt vertically if necessary, allowing you to change direction.
According to the results of the experiments, it turned out that the elytra create additional lifting force. They also flew in a wind tunnel and, based on the analysis of the air flow, it turned out that the elytra increased the permissible angle of attack from 14 to 20 degrees.
The robot beetle can also fly in a controlled manner, despite the additional mass from the wings and accompanying servos. The authors noted that despite the attention to design, the device is lifted into the air thanks to the propellers and wings.