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ExoFly

The goal of this innovative project is to fly this flapping winged aerobot concept in an extraterrestrial atmosphere, towards which Ursa Minor is working in collaboration with the Universities of Delft and Wageningen. A demonstrator has been implemented for use in Earth atmosphere, capable of autonomous, stable and robust straight-line flight and hovering, as well as take-off and landing. A pinhole camera payload is currently integrated with data transmission capability.

 exofly demonstrator

Flapping winged flight is well suited to the low density and highly viscous Martian atmosphere, for example. Such a system would be capable of autonomous, efficient and robust flight in the lower Mars atmosphere, offering novel opportunities for 3D surface feature analysis from outcrop-scale visual data collection using this stable mobile platform.

While adaptation to Mars conditions would required different physical characteristics, initial studies have found that this should not be an impediment to feasibility. The demonstrator has a total weight of 17 grams and is able to fly for 12 minutes with onboard energy storage and a pinhole camera payload. In Mars conditions, initial studies have identified a potential mission with Exofly mass of 20 grams and range of 10-15 km with onboard solar cell recharging of the energy storage subsystem. The demonstrator uses its optical sensor to enable optical flow control aiding the implemented direct control.
 exofly demonstrator Development is envisaged to have significant educational value since through extensive student participation. Students from various disciplines from Delft University of Technology already form an integrated project teams in ongoing development. Project management consists of Ursa Minor and specialised professors from the participating universities.

Videos:

Demonstration at ESA/ESTEC 1
Demonstration at ESA/ESTEC 2
Promo video
Outdoor demonstration

Media Coverage:

New Scientist
Engadget
Gizmodo
Universe Today
Cosmic Ray
And more....

Student Opportunities:

Student opportunities

 



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