Abstract: In this talk, I will describe our recent work building a biologically-inspired bat robot. Bats have a complex skeletal morphology, with both ball-and-socket and revolute joints that interconnect the bones and muscles to create a musculoskeletal system with over 40 degrees of freedom, some of which are passive. Replicating this biological system in a small, lightweight, low-power air vehicle is not only infeasible, but also undesirable; trajectory planning and control for such a system would be intractable, precluding any possibility for synthesizing complex agile maneuvers, or for real-time control. Thus, our goal is to design a robot whose kinematic structure is topologically much simpler than a bat’s, while still providing the ability to mimic the bat-wing morphology during flapping flight, and to find optimal trajectories that exploit the natural system dynamics, enabling effective controller design.
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