Bat Inspired Lifesize Ornithopter with Passive Lateral Wing Retraction

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Virginia Tech


Bats have a unique flying style that allows them to be highly dexterous in capturing prey and have great freedom of movement in flight. Bats' wings have a wing membrane that is tensioned by their fingers and arms, allowing them to retract their wings laterally in flight. This distinct motion has allowed bats to be the only mammals capable of sustained flight, adding to their evolutionary uniqueness. This thesis presents the creation of the VALKRIE (Versatile Aerial Lifesize Kinetic Robot Inspired by bat Evolution) project: a to-scale simplified bat-inspired ornithopter that can be remotely controlled, sustain flight, and passively retract and extend its wings laterally. VALKRIE mimics the dimensions and size of its biological counterpart, Hipposideros diadema, a medium-sized bat; setting its aerodynamical constraints to the dimensions of Hipposideros diadema. Bats' maneuverability is derived from their unique wing motion while in flight, retracting and extending their wings. VALKRIE mimics this motion by simplifying the joint structure of a bat's wing and passively retracting and extending the wings. By simplifying the complex anatomy of bat wing motion, VALKRIE can maintain flight and generate sufficient lift for increasing altitude. With a simplified design, VALKRIE only has two motors that actuate wing flapping, wing retraction, and rotation of the hind legs. With this simplified design, the operator can remotely control VALKRIE by increasing and decreasing the wingbeat frequency and steering to the right and left with the hind legs.



Bat, Robot, Bio-Inspired, Lifesize, Ornithopter