Special Issue "Bio-Inspired Drones"

A special issue of Drones (ISSN 2504-446X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Mirko Kovac
Website
Guest Editor
Director, Aerial Robotics Laboratory, Department of Aeronautics, Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ, UK
Interests: unmanned aerial vehicles; aerial robotics; bio-inspired design; soft aerial robotics; evolutionary biology
Dr. Sophie Armanini
Website
Guest Editor
Research Associate, Aerial Robotics Laboratory, Department of Aeronautics, Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ, UK
Interests: flight dynamics; system identification; flapping-wing/ bio-inspired flight; micro air vehicles; control systems
Dr. Abdessattar Abdelkefi
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
Interests: piezoelectric energy harvesting; nonlinear dynamics; vibration and control; fluid–structure interactions; MEMS and NEMS
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Thanks to rapid technological advances, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones can now be small and relatively inexpensive to build and use. Therefore, they allow for vast freedom in exploring novel designs and applications that could not be conceived or achieved on manned aircraft and have consequently become highly attractive to the commercial and research sectors. A vast range of UAV applications are currently being explored, ranging from aerial photography and package delivery all the way to crop inspection, fire-fighting, and search and rescue. The ever-growing range of potential UAV applications calls for new capabilities that often cannot be met with conventional solutions based on manned aircraft. Specific applications can require novel abilities, such as effective interaction with the environment, landing on vertical surfaces or exploring unknown and dynamically changing environments. The over-arching challenges in the field include the design and manufacturing of small-scale UAVs that can achieve a sufficient flight time, carry a useful payload, and perform complex tasks autonomously. Solutions need to be developed for swarming, collision avoidance and mitigation, integration with manned air traffic, handling adverse weather, navigation in complex dynamic environments, exploring cluttered indoor spaces, etc.
A rich source of inspiration to tackle the aforementioned challenges is provided by nature. Thanks to millions of years of evolution, nature showcases elaborate and effective solutions for many complex tasks, including locomotion, sensing, control and navigation. Flying animals, for instance, are typically adept at hovering, rapid forward flight, complex rapid manoeuvring, high-precision navigation, robust control, and multimodal mobility. In aerial robotics, bio-inspired solutions are thus becoming widespread, with examples including flapping-wing flight mechanisms, bird-inspired perching, insect-inspired visual navigation, and bat-inspired echolocation. Bio-inspiration can both allow for entirely new capabilities and lead to novel solutions to existing challenges.
This Special Issue invites submissions addressing the development of novel, bio-inspired UAVs/drones, including but not limited to: The development and investigation of new robotic platform designs, soft robotics and novel materials, adaptive and morphing design, bio-inspired control, multisensory navigation, obstacle avoidance, environment interaction and perching, machine learning applications, experimental methods and testing, datasets, demonstration of new applications, as well as the use of bio-inspired robots to better understand biological systems.

Dr. Mirko Kovac
Dr. Sophie Armanini
Dr. Abdessattar Abdelkefi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Drones is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Novel bio-inspired air vehicle design
  • Robot-inspired biology studies
  • Autonomous flight
  • Multiterrain capability and multimodal locomotion
  • Bio-inspired control and navigation
  • Actuation mechanisms design
  • Environment interaction and adaptation
  • Machine learning applications
  • Bio-inspired materials
  • Soft aerial robots
  • Bio-inspired sensing and actuation
  • Bio-inspired aerodynamics
  • Bio-inspired fluid–structure interaction
  • Application studies including real-world field testing
  • Databases on bio-inspired robots

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Towards Improved Hybrid Actuation Mechanisms for Flapping Wing Micro Air Vehicles: Analytical and Experimental Investigations
Drones 2019, 3(3), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones3030073 - 13 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
A new strategy is proposed in order to effectively design the components of actuation mechanisms for flapping wing micro air vehicles. To this end, the merits and drawbacks of some existing types of conventional flapping actuation mechanisms are first discussed qualitatively. Second, the [...] Read more.
A new strategy is proposed in order to effectively design the components of actuation mechanisms for flapping wing micro air vehicles. To this end, the merits and drawbacks of some existing types of conventional flapping actuation mechanisms are first discussed qualitatively. Second, the relationships between the design of flapping wing actuation mechanism and the entrance requirements including the upstroke and downstroke angles and flapping frequency are determined. The effects of the components of the actuation mechanism on the kinematic and kinetic parameters are investigated. It is shown that there are optimum values for different parameters in order to design an efficient mechanism. Considering the optimized features for an actuation mechanism, the design, analysis, and fabrication of a new hybrid actuation mechanism for FWMAV named “Thunder I” with fourteen components consisting of two six-bar mechanisms are performed. The results show that this designed hybrid actuation mechanism has high symmetrical flapping motion with hinged connections for all components. The proposed methodology for the modeling and fabrication of Thunder I’s actuation mechanism can be utilized as guidelines to design efficient FWMAVs actuation mechanisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio-Inspired Drones)
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Open AccessArticle
Nature-Inspired Drone Swarming for Real-Time Aerial Data-Collection Under Dynamic Operational Constraints
Drones 2019, 3(3), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones3030071 - 04 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) with acceptable performance are becoming commercially available at an affordable cost. Due to this, the use of drones for real-time data collection is becoming common practice by individual practitioners in the areas of e.g., precision agriculture and civil defense [...] Read more.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) with acceptable performance are becoming commercially available at an affordable cost. Due to this, the use of drones for real-time data collection is becoming common practice by individual practitioners in the areas of e.g., precision agriculture and civil defense such as fire fighting. At the same time, as UAVs become a house-hold item, a plethora of issues—which can no longer be ignored and considered niche problems—are coming of age. These range from legal and ethical questions to technical matters such as how to implement and operate a communication infrastructure to maintain control over deployed devices. With these issues being addressed, approaches that focus on enabling collectives of devices to operate semi-autonomously are also increasing in relevance. In this article we present a nature-inspired algorithm that enables a UAV-swarm to operate as a collective which provides real-time data such as video footage. The collective is able to autonomously adapt to changing resolution requirements for specific locations within the area under surveillance. Our distributed approach significantly reduces the requirements on the communication infrastructure and mitigates the computational cost otherwise incurred. In addition, if the UAVs themselves were to be equipped with even rudimentary data-analysis capabilities, the swarm could react in real-time to the data it generates and self-regulate which locations within its operational area it focuses on. The approach was tested in a swarm of 25 UAVs; we present out preliminary performance evaluation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio-Inspired Drones)
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Open AccessArticle
Wing Design, Fabrication, and Analysis for an X-Wing Flapping-Wing Micro Air Vehicle
Drones 2019, 3(3), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones3030065 - 20 Aug 2019
Abstract
Flapping-wing Micro Air Vehicles (FW-MAVs), inspired by small insects, have limitless potential to be capable of performing tasks in urban and indoor environments. Through the process of mimicking insect flight, however, there are a lot of challenges for successful flight of these vehicles, [...] Read more.
Flapping-wing Micro Air Vehicles (FW-MAVs), inspired by small insects, have limitless potential to be capable of performing tasks in urban and indoor environments. Through the process of mimicking insect flight, however, there are a lot of challenges for successful flight of these vehicles, which include their design, fabrication, control, and propulsion. To this end, this paper investigates the wing design and fabrication of an X-wing FW-MAV and analyzes its performance in terms of thrust generation. It was designed and developed using a systematic approach. Two pairs of wings were fabricated with a traditional cut-and-glue method and an advanced vacuum mold method. The FW-MAV is equipped with inexpensive and tiny avionics, such as the smallest Arduino controller board, a remote-control receiver, standard sensors, servos, a motor, and a 1-cell battery. Thrust measurement was conducted to compare the performance of different wings at full throttle. Overall, this FW-MAV produces maximum vertical thrust at a pitch angle of 10 degrees. The wing having stiffeners and manufactured using the vacuum mold produces the highest thrust among the tested wings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio-Inspired Drones)
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Open AccessArticle
Insights into Sensitivity of Wing Shape and Kinematic Parameters Relative to Aerodynamic Performance of Flapping Wing Nano Air Vehicles
Drones 2019, 3(2), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones3020049 - 19 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In this work, seven wings inspired from insects’ wings, including those inspired by the bumblebee, cicada, cranefly, fruitfly, hawkmoth, honeybee, and twisted parasite, are patterned and analyzed in FlapSim software in forward and hovering flight modes for two scenarios, namely, similar wingspan (20 [...] Read more.
In this work, seven wings inspired from insects’ wings, including those inspired by the bumblebee, cicada, cranefly, fruitfly, hawkmoth, honeybee, and twisted parasite, are patterned and analyzed in FlapSim software in forward and hovering flight modes for two scenarios, namely, similar wingspan (20 cm) and wing surface (0.005 m2). Considering their similar kinematics, the time histories of the aerodynamic forces of lift, thrust, and required mechanical power of the inspired wings are calculated, shown, and compared for both scenarios. The results obtained from FlapSim show that wing shape strongly impacts the performance and aerodynamic characteristics of the chosen seven wings. To study the effects of different geometrical and physical factors including flapping frequency, elevation amplitude, pronation amplitude, stroke-plane angle, flight speed, wing material, and wingspan, several analyses are carried out on the honeybee-inspired shape, which had a 20 cm wingspan. This study can be used to evaluate the efficiency of different bio-inspired wing shapes and may provide a guideline for comparing the performance of flapping wing nano air vehicles with forward flight and hovering capabilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio-Inspired Drones)
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