Learning From Birds And Bees: Engineers Study Insects For Ideas On Tiny "Micro Air Vehicles"

ding demonstration of optical-through- wafer interconnects. Drs. Joy Laskar, Nan Marie Jokerst, Martin Brooke, April Brown and Scott Wills in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering make up this project team developing the chips.

Researchers including Nile Hartman and Bob Schwerzel in GTRI are working on the area of miniaturized integrated-optic chemical and biological sensor systems.

Though flown under human control, the MicroFlyers must be independent enough to avoid obstacles and maintain stable flight by themselves.

"Flying a remote-controlled helicopter is extremely difficult, and even experienced people crash them all the time," Blankenship said. "These aircraft will need autonomy so we don't have to spend a lot of time training people to operate them."

Since they may search environments containing toxic chemicals or biological hazards, the MicroFlyers must also be inexpensive enough to be thrown away. Designers are aiming at a $1,000 per-unit cost for the expendable vehicles.

The effort to design MicroFlyers involves many different technical challenges, so Blankenship believes only organizations with broad interdisciplinary expertise will be successful in building them.

"We're not really sure what will turn out to be the most difficult challenge," he added. "Nobody has ventured into this realm before."

Speakers at the conference include Dr. James McMichael, proposed director of the micro Air Vehicle (microAV) program in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and Col. Michael Francis, former director of the microAV program.

Information about the confere

Contact: John Toon
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News

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