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Four-winged flying robot resembles motions of a swimming jellyfish

The four-winged flying machine has greater stability than two-winged bots, but needs an external power supply and someone to steer it.

By Ananth Baliga
Four-winged flying robot resembles motions of a swimming jellyfish
The four-winged flying machine, which moves much like a jellyfish, has increased stability as compared to two-winged bots but needs external power supply and someone to steer it. (Credit: NYU/L. Ristroph)

Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Scientists have developed a small four-winged robot that flies through the air much the way a jellyfish swims in water.

Created by Leif Ristroph of New York University, the flying robot has four wings around it's waist which move up and down just 20 times per minute, and resemble the pulsating movement of a jelly fish. The robot weighs just two grams and is four inches across.

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Traditional flying bots are usually ornithopters, which mimic two-winged creatures, but they present challenges when it comes to stability.

Insects like flies have specialized centers in their brains to mange this stability issue. This was difficult to program in a small robot, so Ristroph came up with the four-winged approach to create a flying robot with good stability.

The prototype is by no means autonomous and is still in its developmental phase. It still requires a tether to power as it doesn't have its own power source and cannot steer. But it is a model for how robots may fly in the future. Ristroph hopes this model can be used to transport miniaturized future robots for surveillance, search-and-rescue, and traffic and atmospheric monitoring.

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Ristroph is presenting his work at the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting in Pittsburgh on Nov. 24.

[Discovery]

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