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ExoFly & DelFly: Fluttering For Exploration

NASA is currently investigating the use of robot dragonflies to further explore Mars, and to use them in partnership with Rovers on other planets. The idea is tiny, winged robots, capable of hovering in place, and flitting off, could fly much further afield than land craft, and identify areas for the rovers to explore in depth, ahead of time,

The robot that would be used, called the ExoFly, does not yet exist, but it is feasible, as a terrestrial equivalent designed to fly in Earth's relatively thick atmosphere - DelFly.

In thinner atmospheres such as that on Mars, IO, and a handful of other planets, ExoFly will have to flap its wings much faster than DelFly to stay aloft.

DelFly, developed at the Technical University of Delft, is a micro aerial craft with a 35 cm wingspan. It possesses a double pair of flapping wings, and weighs in at just17 grams. Currently, the model can hover slowly in the air, and fly swiftly in a straight line, slowing to turn. It was designed to carry a small continuous-transmission camera, and to maintain flight as long as possible on internal power. The record so far is seventeen minutes. The beauty is in its flapping wings - because they flap and can be tilted individually, DelFly gains its hovering like a dragonfly mode.


20 second video showing DelFly, flying

 

References

Fluttering robot could show Mars rovers the way

Technical University of Delft, DelFly Project

Staff Comments

 


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