We all know the hype that comes with autonomous inventions. It arouses our interest and we are able to foresee a future where we would have to do minimal work (Wall-E in progress maybe?) but ah well, let’s put a stop before we drift away to our daydreaming and get back to reality. So what do we have here? This is a micro air vehicle, MAV, and it has wings which are capable of flapping. Yeah, boring, because we’ve all heard about flapping wing MAVs but hey, did we mention it’s autonomous? Guess, we missed that. Our bad, this MAV is autonomous and comes with flapping wings. The invention comes from a team of researchers at Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology. Only yesterday the news came in that this recent invention being called DelFly Explorer is able to make flights completely autonomously. It is also the first flapping wing MAV to achieve this.
DelFly has a wing span of 11 inches and weighs about 20 grams. Although the weight is equivalent to that of four A4 sheets, it is still able to host a stereo vision system which weighs 4 grams and is made up of 2 cameras and a processor. The autopilot assembly is about 1 gram in weight and includes a barometer, accelerometers and a few gyroscopes. The gadget also has a battery and some motors. The battery allows for about nine minutes of flight time.
DelFly Explorer is capable of taking off, maintaining altitude by employing a barometer and is able to steer through obstacles without any help from the user. Although the cameras are not able to come up with high definition images, they are still able to make out where the objects are.
As of now, it is capable of navigating in a room without hitting anything, but it still is not able to pass through doorways or windows. The team is working to fix these shortcomings so that the gadget can be employed as an indoor exploratory vehicle. The uses for this MAV include indoor surveillance and spying. However, Guido de Croon, a team member, believes there’s a lighter side to it too and it can be employed to stream live aerial videos at concerts or it can be your fluttering elf at the festivals.
We are definitely looking forward to a more improved and capable version of this MAV.