24-775 Robot Design and Experimentation: Flying Squirrel
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24-775 Robot Design and Experimentation: Flying Squirrel

February 3, 2020


So this is a bio-inspired robot project. We are doing a flying squirrel robot, so our
robot’s going to have two basic modes. One is a hopping mode—like it’s going
to be hopping on the ground. The other one is a gliding mode. So whenever the robot detects a cliff, it
will jump and deploy the wings so it can glide safely to the ground. That’s basically our project. At the beginning of the semester, we go to
the zoo, and we found out there are several animals landing on the ground with their tail. We looked at a video for flying squirrel. It
does not only use the tail; they also use the winds to control the direction. So that’s
why we think this is interesting to mimic. The most challenging part of this project
is the mechanical design because the simulation part always goes different from the actual
design, because in the simulation, it’s always ideal, all the parameters are preset. But in reality, we tried different dropping
tests. Sometimes they flipped, sometimes just not
going the way we want, even though we are doing it according to our simulation. So we just redesign the robot based on our
experimentation, hope to see a better result in the next few days. At the beginning of the semester, we were
searching for literature about flying squirrels, and it turns out flying squirrels have very
simple structure. So it’s easier for us to mimic. After that, we’re doing some CAD design. So first, we start with conceptual designs. For the conceptual design, we basically drawing
out how much degree of freedom we need, what is the deploying mechanism—they’re all
conceptual design, and then we turn it into CAD model to see if it actual fits. After the CAD model, we do the simulation
based on the CAD model to see based on the speed, based on the mass, if it can safely
land on the ground. After simulation, we order parts and assemble
things, test, and see the problems, and then redesign and test. That’s basically our
process right now. We’re having a really good time working
together actually. Everybody is doing their own job, and we’re
keeping on track, keeping on the time schedule, pretty much. So I’m having a pretty good experience this
time. It’s just like a really novel experience
for me. I’ve done some other robot design, and vehicle
design project before. They all have a set goal. You know what you’re going to do. It’s not like a research project. For this one, you have to make your own research
questions. You have to make your own objectives. And based on that objective, you’re going
to see how much you’re going to achieve. That’s really like a novel experience. Like I said, I’ve never done something like
this before. It’s pretty interesting for me.

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