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News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Robotic bumble bee sized drones will explore Mars by flying with flapping insect like wings

• https://www.nextbigfuture.com, by brian wang

The mobile base can act as a recharging station and main communication center. The swarm of Marsbee can significantly enhance the Mars exploration mission with the following benefits: i) Facilitating reconfigurable sensor networks; ii) Creation of resilient systems; iii) Sample or data collection using single or collaborative Marsbees.

Key technical innovation includes the use of insect-like compliant wings to enhance aerodynamics and a low power design. High lift coefficients will be achieved by properly achieving dynamic similarity between the bioinspired insect flight regime and the Mars environment. Our preliminary numerical results suggest that a bumblebee with a cicada wing can generate sufficient lift to hover in the Martian atmosphere. Moreover, the power required by the Marsbee will be substantially reduced by utilizing compliant wing structures and an innovative energy harvesting mechanism. Because of the ultra-low Martian density, the power is dominated by the inertial power. A torsional spring mounted at the wing root to temporarily store otherwise wasted energy and reduce the overall inertial power at resonance. Whereas rotary wing concepts are much more mature in both design and control, these two innovations are uniquely suited to bioinspired flapping vehicles and provide flying near the Martian terrain as a viable means of mobility.

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