A micro air vehicle, or MAV for short, is a miniature UAV that comes with a size restriction and it has the possibility of being autonomous. One can be as small as 2 inches, with a width in the same size category. Nowadays, a MAC can have many purposes, including commercial, it can be used for research, and even for military missions; even NASA has its own MAV projects.
The future of these machines looks bright, as specialists believe they will become insect-sized items, which is exciting. The devices will also be deployed in all emergency situations in the near future like they were at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, after the huge 2011 earthquake.
A MAV allows remote observation of dangerous environments, with high levels of radiation or with increased toxicity for humans, and inaccessible to classic vehicles. Some MAVs have also been built for hobby purposes, as they have grown in popularity and even reached a point where they have their dedicated aerial robotics contests. Some people use them as drones for aerial photography.
In 2008, a university from The Netherlands, Europe, developed the smallest ornithopter, which features a high-quality camera, called the DelFly. It measured four inches, with the weight of a coin, and it resembled a dragonfly. It has remote control capabilities, which was a breakthrough in the field of micro vehicles. However, the model was never tested outside, so it’s shine was a bit damaged by that.
What the inventors tried to do is mimic real insects, but as the team admitted, it will take humanity hundreds of years to create machines that are identical to those living marvels. Technology has its limitation when imitating biology, and our current technological advances are simply not enough.
Most MAVs have complex computers inside them, including low energy chips, gyroscopes, wind sensors, and many more. And everything has to be extra tiny to fit in their bodies. So there’s no wonder why they can be pretty pricey to create. However, that is not stopping amateurs from trying to develop their own unique ornithopters.
The most significant problem when creating such a unit is the battery. It adds a lot of unwanted weight to the product, which will make it harder to fly for long periods of time. Besides, if you want the machine to lift off, you need a big battery, which inherently will make your design larger than most developers would want. It’s a semi-paradox with a complex solution.
Luckily, rapid developments in this field are occurring very fast, due to high demand in various other areas like smartphones. Most creators draw a lot of inspiration from the natural world, so perhaps we can find some of the answers we’re looking for in the way insect produce and conserve energy.