Design Innovation Paper

The Deformable Quad-Rotor: Mechanism Design, Kinematics, and Dynamics Effects Investigation

[+] Author and Article Information
Na Zhao

Department of Mechatronical Engineering,
Beijing Institute of Technology,
Beijing 100081, China;
Department of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering,
University of Nevada, Reno,
Reno, NV 89557
e-mail: zna@bit.edu.cn

Yudong Luo

Robotics and Biomimetics Laboratory,
Department of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering,
University of Nevada, Reno,
Reno, NV 89557
e-mail: yluo@unr.edu

Hongbin Deng

Department of Mechatronical Engineering,
Beijing Institute of Technology,
Beijing 100081, China
e-mail: denghongbin@bit.edu.cn

Yantao Shen

Robotics and Biomimetics Laboratory,
Department of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering,
University of Nevada, Reno,
Reno, NV 89557
e-mail: ytshen@unr.edu

Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANISMS AND ROBOTICS. Manuscript received September 7, 2017; final manuscript received May 8, 2018; published online June 18, 2018. Assoc. Editor: James J. Joo.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 10(4), 045002 (Jun 18, 2018) (5 pages) Paper No: JMR-17-1287; doi: 10.1115/1.4040355 History: Received September 07, 2017; Revised May 08, 2018

This paper focuses on designing, kinematically and dynamically characterizing a novel deformable quad-rotor that is based on the scissor-like foldable mechanisms. Inspired by morphological adaptation of birds during flight, the quad-rotor allows that its volume can be varied to dynamically adapt complex environments and spaces. The advantages of such mechanism are twofold following the scenario, that is, the quad-rotor can stably fly with a big volume/size and can also switch to a smaller volume for a swift flight in response to the changes of the environments and spaces. It therefore is capable of efficiently avoiding obstacles, stably passing through narrow spaces, and resisting certain-extent wind effects. To generate the controllable deformation, the actuated angulated scissor elements in the structure play an important role. In this paper, the scissor element design, its actuation mechanism, and volume deformation of the new quad-rotor are presented in detail. Simulations and experiments are then conducted to validate the controlled deformation as well as to investigate the deformation elicited effects to the activated quad-rotor airframe and its aerodynamics. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed deformable quad-rotor, and prove that it enables excellent volume deformation performance, good flight adaptation, as well as minimal aerodynamics influences during deforming.

Copyright © 2018 by ASME
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Fig. 1

Illustration of the deformable quad-rotor passing through various sized gates

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Fig. 2

Equivalent mechanism of Hoberman's angulated scissor element

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Fig. 3

Adapter design, units design, and the assembled deformable mechanism with maximally contracted and expanded states

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Fig. 4

The deformable quad-rotor: (a) expansion state, (b) contraction state, (c) the rotor mounted with the scissor element, and (d) active unit consisting of servo motor and actuated scissor element

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Fig. 5

Interactional aerodynamics of quad-rotor flows simulation in two typical states, (a) the expansion state, and (b) the contraction state

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Fig. 6

Coordinate system and forces (contraction case) acting on the deformable quad-rotor frame. S1, S2, S3, and S4 represent the positions of four symmetric servo motors for the deformation.

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Fig. 7

Snapshots of the quad-rotor during flight with the deformation

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Fig. 8

Motion behavior captured by motion capture system when it flies with the deformation

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Fig. 9

Obstacle surmounting ability test: flying through narrow spaces by fast and slowly deforming the quad-rotor



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