Ladybugs Inspire the Flight of Fold-up Robot
The mechanics behind the wings of the ladybug serve as inspiration for Kyu-Jin Cho, director of the Soft Robotics Research Center at Seoul National University in South Korea.
“We are trying to mimic the fundamental principle behind creating those motions,” says Cho, according to Popular Science.
Cho and his colleagues designed wings that are sturdy in flight but are also lightweight and extremely compact. They built 13-inch fabric wings with artificial plastic veins that can unfold with 115 milliseconds and can carry up to 150 times their own weight without buckling.
“It naturally locks itself when it’s unfolded because of the curved shape, so it then can hold very heavyweights,” Cho said. “If it was just a flat surface it would bend immediately, but because it has this curved shape it’s much stronger.”
To test these designs, the researchers directed one of their remote-controlled robots to jump from a roof, open its wings midair, and glide to the ground. The robot did just that, refolding its wings and crawling along the ground once it landed. This makes these robots more portable and easier for people or drones to carry, making them ideal for search and rescue and reconnaissance missions.