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

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the paper-airplane-2.0 dept.

Robotics 79

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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Four Sheets? (5, Funny)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about a year ago | (#45710863)

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

Fun! (1)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about a year ago | (#45710919)

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

Re:Fun! (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | about a year ago | (#45712419)

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).

Re:Fun! (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#45713701)

Then why does my airplane always go straight to the floor?

I want my money back!

Re:Fun! (1)

gnupun (752725) | about a year ago | (#45717327)

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.

In anticipation... (4, Funny)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#45710925)

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.

Re:In anticipation... (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year ago | (#45711049)

Letter, ftw you bloody heretic. There is more room for my sacred scribbling.

Re:In anticipation... (4, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | about a year ago | (#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)

Re:In anticipation... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#45712209)

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?

Re: In anticipation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45712747)

I think it is some quaint regional measurement used in the United States.
A little like gallons and quarts and yards.

Re:In anticipation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45712919)

US paper size, 8.5" x 11"

Re:In anticipation... (2, Funny)

Phreakiture (547094) | about a year ago | (#45713125)

US paper size, 8.5" x 11"

That's 215.9mm x 279.4mm for those of you living in the civilized world. Slightly wider and not quite as long as an A4, but generally comparable.

Re:In anticipation... (1)

abies (607076) | about a year ago | (#45716095)

Back in old times, when we were behind Iron Curtain and in few years afterwards, Pen&Paper RPG books were precious commodity. Imagine having to spend half a month salary for a single book. So 'secondary' market was thriving, with somebody buying a book and then everybody else photocopying it over and over. Unfortunately, photocopiers were A4, while most RPG books were in letter format, which was causing ugly black borders on top and bottom and angry stares from the shop owner, who was using a lot more toner than he has expected...

Re:In anticipation... (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | about a year ago | (#45761207)

That's kind of interesting, actually.

Re:In anticipation... (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year ago | (#45712769)

How dare you doubt the sacrosanct religiosity of my assertion? If I -believe- it is better and bigger, it it! This is murica!

Re:In anticipation... (1)

Mashdar (876825) | about a year ago | (#45714197)

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

Re:In anticipation... (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about a year ago | (#45715569)

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.

Re:In anticipation... (5, Funny)

Krishnoid (984597) | about a year ago | (#45711131)

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.

Re:In anticipation... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#45711405)

Touche sir, touche.

Re:In anticipation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45711611)

http://io9.com/5977095/why-we-should-switch-to-a-base+12-counting-system

Re:In anticipation... (2)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about a year ago | (#45711963)

But 13 is congruent with lunar orbits per year!

Re:In anticipation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45714337)

Nope. There are approximately 12.37 lunar cycles each year. Besides, most people don't give a shit about the actual phase of the moon.

Re:In anticipation... (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about a year ago | (#45712387)

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 ...

Re:In anticipation... (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#45713325)

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

What's a "metric"?

Re:In anticipation... (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#45716141)

An unimpressive illusion.

A "meh" trick.

Meh.

4 sheets of A4? How much is it in a sane unit? (2)

slinches (1540051) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:4 sheets of A4? How much is it in a sane unit? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45711045)

20g, so that's 4 nickels according to how an old roommate weed dealer calibrated his scale.

Re:4 sheets of A4? How much is it in a sane unit? (1)

bazmonkey (555276) | about a year ago | (#45711229)

20g, so that's 4 nickels according to how an old roommate weed dealer calibrated his scale.

Sure, AC. Sure.

...

We believe you, really! It was your, uh, "roommate" with the side-biz.

Re:4 sheets of A4? How much is it in a sane unit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45711637)

Have you every calibrated a pocket scale, bazmonkey?

Re:4 sheets of A4? How much is it in a sane unit? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45711053)

How much does it weigh in a sane unit?

Approximately 4.3 nano-Libraries of Congress.

Re:4 sheets of A4? How much is it in a sane unit? (5, Funny)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#45711067)

4 sheets of A4? How much is it in a sane unit?

We are talking about 2.75577828e-9 of a fully loaded jumbo jet! Wow, that's light!

If you need area, it's 0.0000152737 of a football field.

Re:4 sheets of A4? How much is it in a sane unit? (1)

Macman408 (1308925) | about a year ago | (#45711507)

Pssssh, get rid of all those silly metric units like Dynes and A4 paper. A large number of us here are in the good ol' US of A and hereby demand that this be rewritten in terms of Imperial or US customary units - how about sheets of Letter paper?

Re:4 sheets of A4? How much is it in a sane unit? (4, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#45711573)

Imperial, huh? Okay... If the measurement they gave in grams in the article was precise, you can take your pick of imperial measurement here... either 308.65 grains, 11.29 drams, 12.86 pennyweights, or 15.43 scruples.

Re:4 sheets of A4? How much is it in a sane unit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45714781)

Good point. A4 is only a dimensional size, nothing to do with actual mass or weight. Are we talking about the kind of paper they print phone books on? Or is it a heavy card stock or bristol board which isn't too far removed from being considered cardboard instead of paper?

Re:4 sheets of A4? How much is it in a sane unit? (0)

Hillgiant (916436) | about a year ago | (#45715125)

Four sheets of A4 is one sheet of A2. If you are going to go ISO 216, you might as well go whole hog.

Interesting (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#45710955)

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.

I'm wondering (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#45711007)

So, how much wind can they take before being hopelessly blown off course?

Re:I'm wondering (3, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#45711201)

twelve

Useless (0)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#45711085)

Assistant professor demonstrates useless device.
Where are the news here?

Re:Useless (4, Insightful)

Camembert (2891457) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re: Useless (0)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#45711527)

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.

Re: Useless (4, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#45711589)

The ability to see, and transmit what it sees, is far from useless. I think that the poster to whom you responded nailed it with his first sentence.

Re: Useless (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#45711923)

It cannot carry a real camera...

Re: Useless (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#45711949)

Define "real camera".

Re: Useless (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#45712253)

a camera where a human can tell what it is seeing

Re: Useless (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#45716885)

Then yes, it can [youtube.com] . The quality may not be HD, but you can still clearly see what it is seeing (and this video is to a "micro version" of the one being talked about in the article, so the 20cm one would likely be able to carry an even better camera).

Re: Useless (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#45717485)

I'm not sure. I can barely see anything.

Re: Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45711605)

It caries a payload called a "camera." You may not have heard of such a thing, but it is all the rage in some fields who want to take pictures of things that are difficult to see with a squishy human.

Re:Useless (1)

TheLink (130905) | about a year ago | (#45715487)

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 world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_Hummingbird [wikipedia.org]
Weighs about 2 grams (for the US folk that's less than half a nickel).

Re:Useless (1)

Aqualung812 (959532) | about a year ago | (#45717719)

An unladen honeybee is about 80mg.

Is that an African or European honeybee?

Re:Useless (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | about a year ago | (#45715061)

"[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

Cro3k (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45711157)

Fun to be again. downward spiral. In Paper towels, also dead, its 3 simple steps! sling, return it to gig in front of contact to sse if *BSD is dead. for membership. been sitting here halt. Even Emacs the developer FreeBSD's be fun. It used on baby...don't irc.easynews.com disturbing. If you it has to be fun BUWLA, or BSD Was at the same clearly. There when done playing of playing your are there? Oh, that 0support future. The hand bloc in order to a full-time GNAA

Cro3k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45714051)

Buggerit, Millennium hand and shrimp!

Please simplify (0)

Microsift (223381) | about a year ago | (#45711173)

You mean weighs as much as 1 sheet of A2 paper...

Yuo can tell this is not a US MAV... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45711261)

...at there is no mention of military applications in the article anywhere.

Re:Yuo can tell this is not a US MAV... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45711739)

The Americans will weaponize it soon enough. All glory to the American Empire!

Re:Yuo can tell this is not a US MAV... (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#45714123)

Light the paper on fire and LET IT FLY!!!

Huh? (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year ago | (#45711315)

Fully Autonomous Flapping-wing MAV

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

Re:Huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45711473)

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

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45712555)

Maybe this is more your speed?

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/393053146/powerup-30-smartphone-controlled-paper-airplane

decent engineering, redux science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45711427)

ok, so these guys took the idea from Aerovironment [forbes.com] , gear mechanism from Festo [ytimg.com] , and the latest openCV optimization [cvpapers.com] to create something that avoids static objects in a still wind environment. And of course made it into a PhD project.

And I like the "crowd over a concert".... Yeah... I'm sure the stereo will work well among all those lights air currents, and people.

Re:decent engineering, redux science (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about a year ago | (#45711913)

I don't knock their work ... :)

All that needs doing is adding a helium ballon with additional battery payload. As long as the entire system is neutrally bouyant, this could hover for hours, streaming video. Even follow its owner around... Kinda like the "kino" orb in the Stargate Universe TV series, but with wings :)

Delfly? Are they ST:Voyager fans? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#45711511)

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".

Re:Delfly? Are they ST:Voyager fans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45711823)

It's built on Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. DELF(t f)ly is a really cool name!

Wow (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about a year ago | (#45711585)

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.

Re:Wow (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Wow (2)

peragrin (659227) | about a year ago | (#45712525)

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.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45714155)

That's the most inaccurate description of the Wright brothers first flight I've ever seen.

Are you from South Carolina or something?

Re:Wow (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about a year ago | (#45717517)

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.

Re:Wow (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45718023)

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]

Re:Wow (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about a year ago | (#45725665)

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, outdoor, it's going to have to learn to use the wind as the butterflies do. Man still is in awe of birds flying in a V formation, so how will he ever understand flight in this way, until he himself flies with his own apparatus, and use the wind as a part of flight?

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45713143)

And the first flight was only 120 feet! I mean come on, they could have walked that far. Who needs to fly?

Re:Wow (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about a year ago | (#45717457)

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 winged" craft to make a breakthrough.

Re:Wow (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45717645)

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.

Re:Wow (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about a year ago | (#45725583)

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?

The Flying Fapping What? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year ago | (#45711635)

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

Stereo (1)

Erik WP (3406995) | about a year ago | (#45711959)

I read that it was equipped with an on-board stereo system. That would be one funky bird.

Harry Potter flying memos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45712615)

These could be used to create those flying paper airplanes that took the elevator in the ministry of magic in the Harry Potter films. MAV swoops in, hovers over your desk, and bam, fully autonomous pink slip for spending all day on slashdot!

I'm not sure how much stereo is in that vision (2)

steve.cri (2593117) | about a year ago | (#45716547)

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 papers though.
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