The H2Bird is able to fly for up to 90 seconds after launch, but cannot fly without an initial push.
The VelociRoach weighs slightly over an ounce, while the H2Bird is half that weight.
Researchers have studied the ornithopter in a wind tunnel to determine the velocity and angle of attack needed for a proper liftoff of the mechanical bird.
They found launch conditions include a velocity of 4.25 feet per second, at an angle between 35 and 40 degrees. They then customized the VelociRoach for launching the mechanical bird.
Researchers said, “[B]y combining two different forms of locomotion in one platform, you can take advantage of (say) the efficiency and endurance of a ground robot with the range and versatility of a flying robot. However, designing one robot that can walk and fly tends to be both complicated and inefficient, which is
whyheterogeneous robot teams are often more appealing.”
Mounting the H2Bird on top of the VelociRoach makes the mechanical cockroach more stable, and slow flapping of the wings makes the ornithopter lighter.
Researchers also hope that a similar design might one day be employed in robotic devices where terrain or specific dangers could require a combination of ground and air approaches.
In future ornithopters may be able to return to their launching pad.
In the current system, the launch must be controlled by hand.
Investigators are working to design a fully autonomous version of the system.
The version of the VelociRoach other than the one used in the system can travel at speed up to 16 feet per second, this makes it the fastest legged robot in the world, relative to its size.
Ornithopter is a generic team for any device that can fly flapping its arms like a bird.
The development of a VelociRoach capable of launching an ornithopter will be presented in detail in a presentation at the ICRA 2015 conference. This conference is held by IEEE Robotics & Automation Society.