Skip to main content

RBE PhD Dissertation Presentation: Abudula Aihaitijiang | SoAR (Soft Aerial Robot) – Origami-Inspired Morphing Fuselage Extends Flight Capabilities

Tuesday, November 29, 2022
9:00 am to 11:00 am

RBE PhD Dissertation Presentation

Abudula Aihaitijiang

SoAR (Soft Aerial Robot) – Origami-Inspired Morphing Fuselage Extends Flight Capabilities

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Zoom Link: Email


Abstract: The field of aerial robots is rapidly growing due to its broad range of applications, such as supplying essentials for disaster management, search and rescue operations, construction safety inspections, and package delivery. To increase flight maneuverability and efficiency of aerial robots, a significant subset of research is focusing on morphing wings, to imitate the remarkable capabilities of biological fliers. However, current winged aerial robots still lack the ability to adapt to different flight conditions and tasks, which include high maneuverability, sharp turns, aggressive flight, or vertical take-off & landing capabilities. Shape morphing is used in nature for mobility and maneuverability in terrestrial and underwater locomotion. The underexplored morphable fuselage is expected to play an important role in achieving high maneuverability and agility in winged aerial robots. Here, we propose a new class of aerial robots which use deformable fuselages to achieve high-performance flight. First, we describe development and experimental evaluation of a tilt wing flying robot platform. The proposed platform combines unique features of multi-rotor and fixed wing systems to achieve long duration flight with low energy compared to a conventional multi-rotor aerial robot. As a main contribution, we describe an origami-inspired morphing fuselage strategy to improve the agility, turn maneuverability, and extended flight capabilities of a new class of flight platform called soft aerial robot (SoAR) without traditional control surfaces and using a simple flight control algorithm. Horizontal bending of the fuselage results in a rapid sharp-turn maneuver; this method replaces yaw control surfaces in conventional aircraft. Vertical up-bending of the fuselage results in aggressive pull-up flight capabilities and a unique emergency brake maneuver. The proposed morphing-fuselage soft aerial robot not only extends flight capabilities, but also enables grasping and delivery of objects by changing the length of its own deformable fuselage without the need for additional actuators. The deformable structure of the fuselage helps absorb external forces to protect the aerial robot from collisions. In addition, we present the results of the first stage of creating a SoAR model in MATLAB Simulink. Our unique design and experimental, simulation results illustrate the new capabilities enabled by these next-generation agile soft aerial robots. This dissertation includes contributions in the design of the SoAR and evaluations of flight performance, extends flight capabilities and finally the MATLAB/Simulink modeling with control of the system.

Research Advisor:

Professor Cagdas D. Onal, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) 

PhD Qualifier Reviewers: 

Professor Berk Calli, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) 

Professor Haichong Zhang, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) 

Professor Raghvendra V. Cowlagi, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)