3D Printed Hovering Ornithopters

3D Printed Hovering Ornithopter View 1   3D Printed Hovering Ornithopter View 2

Project Members: Charlie Richter, Floris van Breugel, William Regan, Zhi Ern Teoh

This project currently focuses on developing a flapping-wing hovering insect using 3D printed wings and mechanical parts.  The use of 3D printing technology has greatly expanded the possibilities for wing design, allowing wing shapes to replicate those of real insects or virtually any other shape. It has also reduced the time of a wing design cycle to a matter of minutes.  An ornithopter with a mass of 3.89g has been constructed using the 3D printing technique and has demonstrated an 85-second passively stable untethered hovering flight. This flight exhibits the functional utility of printed materials for flapping wing experimentation and ornithopter construction and for understanding the mechanical principles underlying insect flight and control.

Several previous results from this project include evolved flapping patterns for a hovering ornithopter and a record-setting flight of the first passively stable untethered hovering ornithopter.


Publications:

Richter, C., and Lipson, H. (2010) "Untethered Hovering Flapping Flight of a 3D-Printed Mechanical Insect", Artificial Life, Vol. 17, No. 2 (in press).

Richter, C., and Lipson, H. (2010) "Untethered Hovering Flapping Flight of a 3D-Printed Mechanical Insect", 12th Int. Conference on Artificial Life (Alife XII), Odense, Denmark, August 2010, pp. 787-803.

van Breugel F., Regan W., Lipson H., (2008) "From Insects to Machines: A Passively Stable, Untethered Flapping-Hovering Micro Air Vehicle," IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 68-74. (mov) (wmv)

van Breugel F., Teoh Z. E., Lipson H. (2007), "A Passively Stable Hovering Flapping Micro-Air Vehicle", in D. Floreano et al. (eds.), Flying Insects and Robots, pp 171-184, Springer.

Regan W., van Breugel F., Lipson H. (2006) “Towards Evolvable Hovering Flight on a Physical Ornithopter”, Proceedings of the 10th Int. Conference on Artificial Life (ALIFE X), pp.241-247.

Press:

For Insects, Press Print, by Duncan Graham-Rowe, July 16, 2010 (pdf)

Hovering Flapping Flight of a 3D Printed Mechanical Insect, Make Magazine Blog, 2010 (pdf)

Flap like a butterfly, hover like a bumblebee: Student's flapping wing vehicle is more stable than a helicopter, by Bill Steele, Dec. 10, 2008 (cached)

Images:

Visit the images page for hi-res photos

Video:


Untethered Hovering Flapping Flight of a 3D-Printed Mechanical Insect, 2010 (mp4)

From Insects to Machines: A Passively Stable, Untethered Flapping-Hovering Micro Air Vehicle, 2008 (mov, wmv)

Acknowledgments:

This research has been supported in part by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the US National Institute of Health (NIH), and the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA). The results and opinions presented here are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the sponsoring organizations.