Ionolet sized coin flies without wings, propellers and moving parts

Flying robots the size of insects are generally designed to simulate the biological insects, because insects are considered masters of biological effective small flight. These flying mikroapparaty with flapping wings (FMAV) are close in size to the real insects, and the demonstration of some of the robots the size of a bee is really surprising: they can take off, hover, and even dive into the water. However, to create a tiny robot with flapping wings that can move in all degrees of freedom needed to control, it is difficult, requires complicated mechanical gears and sophisticated software.

Ionolet sized coin flies without wings, propellers and moving parts

It is easy to see why biomimetic approach is preferred: in insects were a few hundred million years to work through all the movements, and other ways in which we figured out how to make robot to fly on their own (ie: the system based on the propellers) scaled to smaller sizes is not very good. But there is another way to fly, and in contrast to the wings or airfoils, to such an animal could not guess: electrohydrodynamic thrust that does not require moving parts, only electricity.

The Little ionolet

Electrohydrodynamic (EHD) engines, sometimes called ion engines used vysokosilnoe electric field to create a plasma of ionized air. Ions (mainly positively charged nitrogen molecule) are attracted to the negatively charged lattice, and on the way to enter the neutral air molecules, giving them a pulse which comes from the traction ion.

Ionolet sized coin flies without wings, propellers and moving parts

The idea, in fact, not really new: a common phenomenon has been known for hundreds of years, and some time people thought that it can be used in manned aircraft. However, to raise the human need to structure an incredibly large emitters and collector arrays.

In 2003, the huge ion airplane fly mouse Orville, but beyond the pretty pictures we got nothing. The technology does not become practical.

Before you ionocraft, which is being developed by the University of California at Berkeley. It tiny - only 2 by 2 centimeters, weighs 30 mg and even 37 mg - gidrostabilizator (although the energy takes on the wire). On a small scale there are no moving parts it becomes a significant advantage, because they do not have to worry about how to scale the mechanical elements such as gears, below the point where they no longer work. Given cargo gidrostabilizatora ionocraft could take off and hover with an input signal voltage of 2000 volts to slightly below 0, 35 mA.

Ionolet sized coin flies without wings, propellers and moving parts

The magic is not it? No moving parts, silence and flying machine. Larger engines EHD may be impractical, but the decrease is essentially scale it makes them better as electrostatic forces do not depend on the scale. This means that small engines have a ratio of thrust to weight ratio and lower voltage requirements. And on a small scale ionocraft advantage FMAV similar size that can develop controller kvadrotorom as a starting point, since ionocraft uses four thrusters lattice in a similar configuration Since it has no rotating propellers, it can not take advantage of the change of angular momentum for turning but uses an interesting yaw scheme until it has room for maneuver.

Ionolet sized coin flies without wings, propellers and moving parts

As with other flying mikroapparatami, the big question will be the possibility of autonomous work with the payload. At this point ionocraft carries a payload of its weight, but he needed only seven wires for power, data and ground. Scientists from Berkeley believe autonomy achievable.

The good news is that there is much room for improvement. What do you think of the ion transport of the future? Tell us in our chat in the telegram.