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You Design It - Flight

It would seem that we will be building us a flying robot. Of course there are several forms that flight could take in this context, so we will have to jump right back into another poll to figure out where we will go from here. Seeing as I have not managed to complete an antigravity device as of the time of this entry, I can think of five possible flight systems that our robot could use. One of these systems I will not be including in the upcoming poll, however, but I will explain more on that below.

Fixed Wing - your a-typical airplane style of flight. Forward propulsion is provided through propeller or jet engine structure, with lift coming from wing design (airflow over/under the wings pulls the object into the air; the forward momentum provides this airflow). This is the method of flight that I will not undertake, as high speeds are generally required to provide the robot a means of getting off the ground, which would require sensory devices that are out of the price range for any hobbyist (remember, the finished design should be relatively easy for a hobbyist to duplicate). This style of flight also has limited applications that fall into surveillance and weapon delivery, neither of which really pertain to a hobby level robot (there are better ways to annoy cats).

Rotor - think "helicopter" and you have the basic concept of rotor produced flight. Fast spinning blades provide downward airflow and thus lift for the vehicle. Steering can be accomplished a variety of differing ways from tilting the primary rotor, to using additional rotors, to modified flaps. A robot utilizing rotor-produced flight has the potential for a good development platform.

Hover - floating on a cushion of air would be the best description for this method of flight. While in the strictest sense, hovering might not qualify as a method of flight, for our purposes it will do as the physical robot is not in contact with the ground below. A hovering robot could make an excellent development platform.

Hot Air - No, not your boss. Using lighter than air gases or heated air (heat rises) in a "balloon" provide the lift, while directionality is produced through propeller and flap combinations. Great for taking sensor readings as a result of the general slow movement, but limited task capabilities.

Animalistic - a.k.a. Icarus flapping his wings. Wing design combined with the upward and downward folding (most creatures' wings fold on the down stroke) motion provides both lift and directionality for this style of robot. Weight becomes very critical in this undertaking, thus limiting the robot to specific tasks as opposed to a development platform, but it would be interesting.

Those are the choices that come to mind for methods of robotic flight. If there is a method not listed that you think should be there, please post a comment. Otherwise, voting will open up Monday, March 10, 2008. Have an uplifting weekend.

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Spend enough time around robot hobbyists or their message forums and you will come across the two "How Do I" topics that popup over and over again. It depends on the time of year and climate as to which topic is more popular, but the first is &

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Eric on :

What happened to this project? Any updates?

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