Drones and Robotics

Aerial Robotics

Birds, insects and fish provide Dr Mirko Kovac and his team with a source of inspiration for the design of their novel artificial systems.

By understanding their physical traits, they have employed features such as retractable wings, sensitised robotic skins, insect inspired compound eyes, perching and artificial muscles in flying robots designed for:

  • distributed sensing of air and water
  • search and rescue
  • autonomous repair and construction

Some of their recent work includes…

 

AquaMav

Flying fish, flying squid, diving birds and diving insects have evolved so they can successfully transition between water and air, and move around in both. Using the underlying design principles of these multimodal animals, Dr Kovac has created a robotic equivalent, the Aquatic Micro Air Vehicle (AquaMAV). This aerial-aquatic robot employs a plunge diving strategy for water entry, folded wings for diving efficiency, water jet propulsion for water take-off and hydrophobic surfaces for water shedding and dry flight. Applications include distributed water quality monitoring, search and rescue operations and underwater exploration. Read more.

SpiderMav

One of the main challenges for aerial robots is the high-energy consumption of powered flight, which reduces their utility for sensing and inspection tasks. By perching on structures they can save energy and maintain a high, stable observation or resting position. Birds and insects have mastered the ability to perch successfully and have inspired perching robots of various sizes.

 

Buildrone

Dr Mirko Kovac and team scooped the national category award at the UAE Drones for Good competition in Dubai with Buildrone. This airborne robot not only takes take sensor readings to detect leaks, but can distribute polyurethane foam in liquid form, mid-flight, to effectively repair potentially dangerous leaks on-site and in real time, without risk to its human operators. Read more.

Facilities 

The team test their creations in urban environments and extreme conditions simulated in the Brahmal Vasudevan Multi Terrain Aerial Robotics Arena – the first of its kind in Europe. 

Experts include 

Dr Mirko Kovac – Director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory at Imperial College London, and Senior Lecturer in Aero-structures. Alongside his research at Imperial, Dr Kovac also works independently as a Scientific Advisor for various organisations including 
  • House of Lords consultation on the Civilian use of Drones in the EU
  • Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology – Advisor to the UAV briefing notes, 2014 and 2015
  • RoboCap fund – managed investment funds aimed exclusively at ‘pure-play’ robotics and automation stocks
  • HayBSee – Agri-tech – robotics for farming
  • Rewired – a robotics-focused fund and venture studio

Advisory services

Product design, research methods, data analysis, technology evaluation for investment, technological innovation, patent evaluation, prototype and protocol development, policy, cyber security and more. Assisting museums, writers, film makers and artists to ensure creations scientifically sound.

Expert insight

Membership of Scientific Advisory Boards and Technical Panels, advice and guidance on drug development programmes, thought leadership, conference speakers, literature reviews and provision of foresight.

Analysis and testing

Use of the world-class specialist facilities and technicians at Imperial for projects ranging from aerodynamic measurements and medical imaging to structural testing and analysis.

Our consultants are world-leading experts in their field, committed to on-going research.

Who to contact:

Tony Inga

Tony Inga

Engagement Manager

For Aeronautics, Engineering (Civil & Environmental, Design, Electrical, Electronic), Physics, Space Technology

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6524

Email me

All areas of expertise:

Related Insights

Factories of the Future

Factories of the Future

Additive manufacturing is an automated production process enabling complex 3D designs to be transformed into physical objects. Read about the benefits and implications. read more

The future of urban air

The future of urban air

How could future technologies and social interventions change urban air for city dwellers? Hover over the map created by Imperial's researchers, futurists and our Tech Foresight team. read more

Innovative body modifications

Innovative body modifications

From mind reading machines to edible water bottles, self-learning bionic hands to smart tattoos, the feature article highlights a range of inventions created by staff, students and citizen scientists which aim to make our lives a little more exciting and a little easier. read more

Related case studies

Twenty20 cricket bat testing

Twenty20 cricket bat testing

The consultants shared expertise and testing in line with MCC rules to help Mongoose develop the MMi3 cricket bat which is an improvement on the standard cricket bat. read more

Structures under extreme loading

Structures under extreme loading

The consultants shared their expertise in seismic assessment and design to support the development of EN1998, also known as Eurocode 8. read more

Bio-Inspired Aerial Robotics

Bio-Inspired Aerial Robotics

Dr Mirko Kovac is Director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory at Imperial College London, and Senior Lecturer in Aero-structures. His research focuses on the development of biologically inspired flying robots for distributed sensing of air and water, search and rescue plus autonomous repair and construction. read more

Latest news

Electric Insights – quarterly reports

Electric Insights – quarterly reports

Commissioned by Drax and delivered by Dr Iain Staffell and team, the quarterly Electric Insights reports analyse raw data made publicly available by National Grid and Elexon, which run the electricity and balancing market respectively, and Sheffield Solar. read more

Heathrow’s air quality initiative takes off

Heathrow’s air quality initiative takes off

As Heathrow gears up for a third runway, the airport is taking steps to improve London's air quality. Imperial's Professor Helen ApSimo has been invited to chair a new Heathrow Air Quality Expert Review Group - while as many as 6,000 staff working at Heathrow will be incentivised to acquire low-emission cars. read more

Heinz to adopt Coca Cola’s sustainable PlantBottle® packaging

Heinz to adopt Coca Cola’s sustainable PlantBottle® packaging

Heinz has announced a strategic partnership enabling them to use Coca Cola’s PlantBottle® packaging. A project through Imperial Consultants (ICON) demonstrated that this plant based packaging reduces CO2 impact by 12-19%. read more