Controlling docking, altitude and speed in a circular high-roofed tunnel thanks to the optic flow

  • Expert Fabien
  • Ruffier Franck


The new robot called BeeRotor we have developed is a tandem rotorcraft that mimicks optic flow-based behaviors previously observed in flies and bees. This tethered miniature robot (80g), which is autonomous in terms of its computational power requirements, is equipped with a 13.5-g quasi-panoramic visual system consisting of 4 individual visual motion sensors responding to the optic flow generated by photographs of natural scenes, thanks to the bio-inspired "time of travel" scheme. Based on recent findings on insects' sensing abilities and control strategies, the BeeRotor robot was designed to use optic flow to perform complex tasks such as ground and ceiling following while also automatically driving its forward speed on the basis of the ventral or dorsal optic flow. In addition, the BeeRotor robot can perform tricky manoeuvers such as automatic ceiling docking by simply regulating its dorsal or ventral optic flow in high-roofed tunnel depicting natural scenes. Although it was built as a proof of concept, the BeeRotor robot is one step further towards achieving a fully- autonomous micro-helicopter which is capable of navigating mainly on the basis of the optic flow.