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Fully Autonomous Flapping-wing MAV Is As Light As 4 Sheets of A4 Paper 79

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the paper-airplane-2.0 dept.
Hallie Siegel writes "According to its developers, the DelFly Explorer is the first flapping wing Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) that is able to fly with complete autonomy in unknown environments. Weighing just 20 grams and with a wingspan of 28cm, it is equipped with an onboard stereo vision system. The DelFly Explorer can perform an autonomous take-off, keep its height, and avoid obstacles for as long as its battery lasts (~9 minutes). All sensing and processing is performed on board, so no human or offboard computer is in the loop."
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Fully Autonomous Flapping-wing MAV Is As Light As 4 Sheets of A4 Paper

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  • by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:05PM (#45710863) Homepage

    I can fly when I'm only three sheets to the wind.

  • This is very cool. They could probably sell tens of thousands to kids (like me) if they need money.
    • by mrbluze (1034940)

      This is very cool. They could probably sell tens of thousands to kids (like me) if they need money.

      Or you could buy my Paper Aeroplane (TM) for half the price? Just needs a gentle push and will fly for 6 seconds (results may vary).

    • by gnupun (752725)
      These things are so tiny they might be considered weapons of mass spying. I'm not sure the general population will be given access to weaponry.
  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:19PM (#45710925) Homepage

    In anticipation of the coming holy war, may I fire the first nuke by stating categorically and unequivocally that metric paper sizes are the correct ones and everything else is stupid.

    Sorry, it's just that I've always wanted to push that button.

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      Letter, ftw you bloody heretic. There is more room for my sacred scribbling.
      • by Cimexus (1355033) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @01:52AM (#45711517)

        Um, are you sure? If by "room" you mean surface area, A4 paper is slightly larger than letter.

        A4 = 210 x 297 mm = 62,370 mm^2
        Letter = 215.9 x 279 mm = 60,322 mm^2 (rounded to nearest mm^2)

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          WTF is "letter" paper anyway, and why do all my printers insist on using it as the default no matter how many times I try to configure them to A4?

        • by wbr1 (2538558)
          How dare you doubt the sacrosanct religiosity of my assertion? If I -believe- it is better and bigger, it it! This is murica!
          • by Mashdar (876825)

            Amen, brother. I believe in the area we can't see. Letter has the larger spiritual area! Made from the one true tree!

      • Your scribblings may be only sacred enough for letter-sized-paper, but my scribblings are so sacrosant that they require Foolscap Paper to properly represent their gravity.

    • by Krishnoid (984597) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @12:01AM (#45711131) Journal

      metric paper sizes are the correct ones and everything else is stupid.

      I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which the margins on this A4 sheet of paper are unfortunately too narrow to contain.

    • Let 'er rip :)

      I mean, obviously the number ten and unit sizes that are useful to humans are simply logical outpourings of nature, not simply another set of arbitrary measures ...

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      metric paper sizes are the correct ones and everything else is stupid.

      What's a "metric"?

  • by slinches (1540051) on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:22PM (#45710943)

    How much does it weigh in a sane unit like dynes?

    They don't even say what weight paper they're using, so the mass could be off by an order of magnitude if you use the wrong one.

  • Looks like a project from MAKE Magazine.

    Very cool, and I assume that in a few months I'll be able to buy this from a kiosk at the Mall.

  • So, how much wind can they take before being hopelessly blown off course?
  • Assistant professor demonstrates useless device.
    Where are the news here?

    • Re:Useless (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Camembert (2891457) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @01:44AM (#45711483)
      Clearly you have very little imagination. Read the article and marvel on how much functionality that they can pack into one gram. This kind of fundamental experimentation will eventually lead to intelligent small flying machines.
      • No, it will not. We've already have all kinds of drones that are actually functional. This device cannot carry any payload, hence it is useless.

      • by TheLink (130905)

        After marvelling, compare with a housefly (or similar) to see how far behind we are in terms of technology.

        "AI" (including basic prediction), navigation, collision avoidance, flight performance (including flight time, speed and range, acceleration/"gees"), location of fuel and raw fuel conversion tech, self-manufacture (including autonomous miner bot aka maggot and fly-factory - pupae), etc. All in a 12 milligram package (typical).

        An unladen honeybee is about 80mg.

        Also compare with the smallest bird in the

    • by Zaatxe (939368)
      "[To Robert Fulton:] What, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you excuse me. I have no time to listen to such nonsense."
      -- Napoleon I
  • You mean weighs as much as 1 sheet of A2 paper...

  • by Type44Q (1233630)

    Fully Autonomous Flapping-wing MAV

    WTF does its guidance have to do with its propulsion method...?! (Seriously, assholes [editors!]!)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The flapping allows flying at lower speed, unless you have a helicopter, which is more difficult to control.

  • This [memory-alpha.org] was the first thing I thought of.

    Okay... so maybe I'm the fan. Still found it hard to ignore that Delfly sounds like an abbreviated form of "Delta Flyer".

  • So, it can turn on, fly at a certain height, and avoid things - all for 9 minutes. I mean, yeah that's sorta cool how they utilize the stereo vision, and that it's got the ability to slow one if it's "wings" in order to avoid things. But it looks like it's only going to work indoors, with all fans off. Being that there's no way to control it, seems like it'd be less than entertaining, other than to present to an unsuspecting audience, like slashdot. Other than that, troll me into oblivion, I suspect it'
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @02:53AM (#45711681)

      So, it can turn on, fly at a certain height, and avoid things - all for 9 minutes. I mean, yeah that's sorta cool how they utilize the stereo vision, and that it's got the ability to slow one if it's "wings" in order to avoid things. But it looks like it's only going to work indoors, with all fans off. Being that there's no way to control it, seems like it'd be less than entertaining, other than to present to an unsuspecting audience, like slashdot. Other than that, troll me into oblivion, I suspect it's lame.

      If you think that's lame, I heard that some idiot bike mechanic brothers demonstrated a so-called flying machine that could barely get 10 feet off the ground and couldn't even stay in the air for 60 seconds. What a joke! It's clear that it's doomed to fail since the early prototype was so limited.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        Why are you modded insightful?

        the idiot bike mechanic didn't demonstrate their flying machine for 3 years so they could work the bugs out of it. When they finally did demonstrate to the public a flying machine it took off from a level surface flew around the field a couple of times and landed where it started from. Then they started taking passengers up.

        Now a days their first flight would have ben hailed, scrutinized and when they didn't deliver a fully functional fighter jet 6 months later ridiculed.

        • Another key point here (with both devices that we're talking about) is that they both have to fly indoors. Usually when that's the case (especially with that flying bike, holy shit it's HUGE!) it's due to 'wind being an obstacle'.

          Really, if they maybe added this winged design to a hot-air balloon, they may have something.
          • by hawguy (1600213)

            Another key point here (with both devices that we're talking about) is that they both have to fly indoors. Usually when that's the case (especially with that flying bike, holy shit it's HUGE!) it's due to 'wind being an obstacle'.

            Just because it has to fly indoors today doesn't mean that it couldn't some day be constructed to allow outdoors use. It's not like there are no "craft" [wikipedia.org] that fly outdoors with large, fragile wings.

            The heavier than air craft built by bicycle mechanics I was talking about was not a pedal powered aircraft [popularmechanics.com] but rather, a much earlier model of airplane [wikipedia.org]

            • It's not like there are no "craft" [wikipedia.org] that fly outdoors with large, fragile wings.

              Ooo, no fair. You're comparing a butterfly - a part of the bio-logic of Nature itself, evolved from the very fiber of the physical universe's intelligence over billions of years - to some rig that was recently"invented" by humans? Come on man. You may as well compare a lighter to our sun, or a sand castle to a mountain. I'm not trying to offend you, sir, but silly indeed.

              In order for what man has come up with to achieve flight using, the basic construction of the item in question in this article, out

      • I bet you $200 that you'll never ever ever see on out in the real world (I'll give you 10 years - and I expect US dollars).

        Look, I'm not trying to down-play the invention itself, it's got a few good things about it, like I said, the radio-vision is cool. However I'll bet that in the end, all that gets used is the radio-vision, as the whole battle of "lift" has already been fought out in all practical manner possible. These days there are simply to many requirements for safety reasons for some "spinning
        • by hawguy (1600213)

          I bet you $200 that you'll never ever ever see on out in the real world (I'll give you 10 years - and I expect US dollars).

          Look, I'm not trying to down-play the invention itself, it's got a few good things about it, like I said, the radio-vision is cool. However I'll bet that in the end, all that gets used is the radio-vision, as the whole battle of "lift" has already been fought out in all practical manner possible.

          That's the point. It's not meant to be a finished product that Amazon will use to deliver packages to you tomorrow, it's a proof of concept that uses some interesting technology. A completely autonomous, obstacle avoiding, flapped wing aircraft that weighs less than 20g is awfully impressive.

          These days there are simply to many requirements for safety reasons for some "spinning winged" craft to make a breakthrough.

          Good thing it's not a "spinning winged" craft.

          • Good thing it's not a "spinning winged" craft.

            There are two wheels that spin that the wings are attached to, and in turn (no pun intended), flap the wings. I put it in quotes because I don't know what else to call it. What do you call it?

  • Not sure I want anything fapping around my backyard, thank-you-very-much.

  • I read that it was equipped with an on-board stereo system. That would be one funky bird.
  • Indoors stereo vision is so hard that if the DelFly actually navigated by stereo vision, this alone would be truly groundbreaking. Especially given the limited processing power on this thing. However, judging by the papers publicly available, the actual collision avoidance on the DelFly seems to rely on optical flow, and complementary, a new model of texture analysis called "appearance variation cue". Both of which do not inherently rely on stereo vision. I might be missing something from the more current p

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

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