LCSR Seminar: Alireza Ramezani “Bat-inspired Dynamic Morphing Wing Flight Through Morphology and Control Design”
When a flapping bat propels through its fluidic environment, it creates periodic air jets in the form of wake structures downstream of its flight path. The animal’s remarkable dexterity to quickly manipulate these wakes with fine-grained, fast body adjustments is key to retaining the force-moment needed for an all-time controllable flight, even near stall conditions, sharp turns, and heel-above-head maneuvers. We refer to bats’ locomotion based on dexterously manipulating the fluidic environment through dynamically versatile wing conformations as dynamic morphing wing flight.
In this talk, I will describe some of the challenges facing the design and control of dynamic morphing Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAV) and report our latest morphing flying robot design called Aerobat. Dynamic morphing is the defining characteristic of bat locomotion and is key to their agility and efficiency. Unlike a jellyfish whose body conformations are fully dominated by its passive dynamics, a bat employs its active and passive dynamics to achieve dynamic morphing within its gaitcycles with a notable degree of control over joint movements. Copying bats’ morphing wings has remained an open engineering problem due to a classical robot design challenge: having many active coordinates in MAVs is impossible because of prohibitive design restrictions such as limited payload and power budget. I will propose a framework based on integrating low-power, feedback-driven components within computational structures (mechanical structures with computational resources) to address two challenges associated with gait generation and regulation. We call this framework Morphing via Integrated Mechanical Intelligence and Control (MIMIC). Based on this framework, my team at SiliconSynapse Laboratory at Northeastern University has copied bat dynamically versatile wing conformations in untethered flight tests.
Alireza Ramezani is an assistant professor at the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Northeastern University (NU). Before joining NU in 2018, he was a post-doc at Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science. He received his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with Jessy Grizzle. His research interests are the design of bioinspired robots with nontrivial morphologies (high degrees of freedom and dynamic interactions with the environment), analysis, and nonlinear, closed-loop feedback design of locomotion systems. His designs have been featured in high-impact journals, including two cover articles in Science Robotics Magazine and research highlights in Nature. Alireza has received NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Program Award in designing bioinspired locomotion systems for the exploration of the Moon and Mars craters two times. He is the recipient of Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) Faculty Research Program Position. Alireza’s research has been covered by over 200 news outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, CNN, NBC, and Euronews. Currently, he is leading a $1 Million NSF project to design and control bat-inspired MAVs in the confined space of sewer networks for monitoring and inspection.