MAVs, UAVs, and Insect Flight Characteristics
MAVs and UAVs and Insect Flight Characteristics seem to have a lot in common. Millions of years of evolution in nature seem to have been one of the greatest engineering schools around. So now the schools are looking to nature. However as we study nature, nature is not good enough. The world is not good enough that is why all species are continually either modifying to fill their niches or they perish. Designing machines after nature because it looks cool maybe fine. But a Mosquitoes job is to suck blood and reproduce and fly around to it's meal and egg laying.
If we design MAVs for other purposes which nature had not thought of such as flying into something and blowing up (single mission MAVs) then obviously a miniature flying missile would be better using a rather fast inexpensive engine? A controllable bullet, and slowing the bullet down to maneuvering speed is a good idea. Slowing it down for surveillance if appropriate may require getting a few tips from nature, such as a bee or humming bird, which hovers a flower checking out which is best. And in that regard the flight characteristics are good advice. But looking at the thorax and the rest of the insect might be questionable since the little insect has other needs and is a compromise itself for it's niche or mission in life or survivability against it's food chain hierarchy; a bat, a bird, a frog, gecko, another insect or whatever.
Larger UAV would take advantage of somewhat different designs. In both RC size and aircraft size there are other thoughts; extended missions and fears of irretrievability. We may wish to look at the Owl, Seagull, Eagle, Raven, Falcon, Condor or the Pterodactyl. For a slightly larger version such as a 2/3 scale aircraft or flying bomb or ICBM well they have designed these for years, in WWII under the names V-1 and V-2 and there were some you may not have heard about in years after under the names SCUD, ICBM, Lance Missile Systems. Today we have flying bombs smart as they come and Tomahawk cruise missiles all based on these old ideas. Now we wish to slow them down hunt, take pictures without being heard or seen. Silent and some deadly which is not all that different from a scout in an insect group or swarm or flock of birds or the mimic theories of today's top universities trying to copy nature.
But those who study evolution ought to understand the other theories, which involve cataclysmic evolution (natural disasters), luck of the draw, survival of the fittest, superior reproductive systems, etc. There are many species that will not be on the planet in half a million years, not to mention the number of identified endangered species, many of which are not suited for life on the planet and others we have prematurely caused to decrease in numbers which make it nearly impossible to go on. We are one of them and even if we are or some similar form of what we are, you can bet we will look significantly different. Perhaps even in the next few hundred years we will have modified ourselves to be more energy efficient and adapted for this and other planets or travel.
With that said we maybe copying some huge mistakes if we copy nature. Now then if you are to copy a Salmon fish or a small rodent, an ant or a bee, a cockroach or a Mosquito, then 400 million years of evolution might be a good bet. The human race being a branch of such tree shrew, primate, modern human, may not be best suited in large populations for survivability long term in the present form living on the hostile surface of this planet within linear time. So mimicking a human being for a robot would not be smart. Something else might work much better. The backbone of a human has a tailbone, we have an appendix, our feet are not correct for our frame (thank god for New Balance), all types of things that are unnecessary and problematic and have not yet evolved out of the genome. So when copying it or using it as a basis for a model is incorrect thinking, since the human being is far from perfect. Now then how can we be sure a Mosquito is the proper model to work from? What about the disease vectors within these insects? Flying bugs robots are great but be careful what you emulate.
Even birds are cool for design, but that flapping wing thing? Well there is one brilliant guy out there who seems to have been studying this stuff for a decade and seems to have it figured out at Cal Tech and even this team is wondering and trying many types of materials, so what type of materials do you use? Well check out what they decided and forget the MAV idea, because at less than 20 cm, and looking like a big bug from Central America, It is called an MFI- Micro-Mechanical Flying Insect? Whatever, still its sting is worse than any living thing?
Oh well now the enemy will have to spend millions to make a better mousetrap or fly swatter? Well too late there is already a patent on it. Simply give your house robot one of these? Sure why not? Perhaps this can be used on larger UAVs or perhaps as an anti-aircraft to bring down international Terrorist pests.
What can power these small bugs? The slightly larger MAVs designed for NASA have it figured out. MAV Fuel;
Sprinkling smart dust in bird feed to simulate a UAV attack on radar. But what do you feed a MFI? Remember it stands for Micro-mechanical Flying Insect. Its payload is a consideration too and with the flight of insects and unpredictability of such flight, how good is it at carrying a camera? Surely it can be used for many other things of importance besides taking pictures. But stable flight is of value for maneuvering in tight spots.
The question I propose is can man better nature? Surely we can, we do every day. We modify rivers, places to live, things we eat. We bread horses and dogs to get the best ones. We have bread people as slaves, sick idea really. But soon people will be modifying for intelligence, athletics, dexterity, resistance to diseases and personal appearance. Women get augmentation and enhancements. Men take Viagra. Everything we come in contact with we modify. Soon we will control our weather, our longevity and interface with computers and plug in chips and communication devices into our skin. We will be able to better nature. We will be able to make nature better and makes systems work better. Why not modify the MAVs to serve man, not the MAV? Why not better the best. We know the weaknesses of bugs after all we kill them with pesticides. We know our own weaknesses such as fear that we use to control other human beings. We use our weaknesses to manipulate our fellow species. We do it in sports, business, leadership, education, parenting and even war (psy-ops).
We should not copy weakness when looking into the behaviors of animals and insects when designing the next greatest innovations. Nature has made mistakes, this is not a perfect world, it is not good enough in so many regards. Those things we can fix, which do not adversely hurt some other important aspect of the important flows, cycles or systems, then by all means do it. I believe that these students studying nature, except for a few, are really wasting time and are not serious about their efforts. This is serious business. The few in the industry and I have named a few here are rare, less than 3%. The others are having fun in robotic engineering and can cause serious problems in the future if they do not submit to the rigorous commitment it tasks to lead us into the future.
These issues of studying nature to better aerodynamics, fluid dynamics, tactics, materials, etc. are serious to many fields such as Biometrics, NanoTech, Biotech, Communication, Network Sensors, Propulsion, Fuels, etc. etc. We can design something better than before and better than nature, with new flight characteristics and move beyond the present period or anything that nature has yet to show us. Some may not be able to see where we are going in the future, but after studying all the latest technologies it is rather obvious. The human race is going to the next step. It is happening now, this maybe the era that future generations of which we may still be involved with due to longevity or human brain computer interface downloads in a big way will look back on and say wow, they really did it. Similar to the last 100 years going from the first cars to men on the moon, through two world wars and then the invention of the computer and all it's incredible uses.
These new fields of science will bleed into each other, so every single building block is becoming more and more serious. These things will affect National Security in a big way. Our colleges and universities need to work harder to bring these things to market, to the military and catapult us into the future. We need more diehards in these fields who are serious and make it a religion so to speak. We need more funding to the top researchers and better work out of the other. If we have to borrow technology from the future, from the past, from nature, fine do it, but only if it makes sense and only if it works and fits into the needs of mankind. Yes this technology has so many uses. So many of the technologies we are working on do.
The DNA work, and mapping and reading, next the proteins, RNA. This is the answer to health care, understanding how we work, why it works and how we can beat Cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, Heart Disease, MS, you name it. Hypersonic Flight, Energy research and Hydrogen Cell technologies, Super computers and programming, Weather Control, Automobile and Transportation safety, Computer-Human Interfaces, Modified Crops, National Security technologies. Look here is the deal every company knows that future profits will come from today's R and D. During the second World War we were forced to produce, create other wise we end up speaking German. We created so many great technologies and after the war received all the benefits from the other side too. When we decide we are going to do something we do it, when we have to we rise to the occasion. This is something that Americans are good at.
Against all odds, against any adversity, we are performers. We must right now, decide that we are moving forward and give it our best, not half way. Not good enough for government work. All the way and since we already went to the moon last time we decided we were going to do something, I guess we had better shoot a little further this time. Forget all the reasons it cannot be done, all the excuses, all the nay sayers, let's just do it? Go buy some Nike Shoes tomorrow. Think a world with no limits. Let's blast through this dimension, through time lets think small as small as we can and let's think big and far as we can. We are living in a great period and we must make it count.
"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs">www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs