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The BEAM Bestiary is a BEAM Reference Library site.

BEAMbots that are propelled through, and (at least periodically) supported by the air

Fliers (a.k.a., Aerobots) are robots that move through, and are propelled by the air. Not many folks have attempted to make a flying BEAMbot -- primarily, I suppose, since most BEAMbots are only episodically active, and this is a bad way to stay airborne.

Still, here are a few design options to consider:

Helicopter -- could be airborne in "hops", and use differential thrust to hop toward brighter areas.

Plane -- could use non-solar power source (pneumatic, battery) for propulsion, but solar power for control circuitry.

Blimp -- could use neutrally-buoyant helium balloon for lift, solar power for control and propulsion

I haven't heard of anybody trying to build one of these -- so try your hand at one and make a name for yourself!

For more information...

There really aren't any sites I can point you to on aerial BEAMbots. I have, though, found a few interesting sites on small aerial robots of other sorts (and nothing says we can't eventually build a BEAM variant of one of these). So, in the interest of inspiring future aerial BEAM craft, I present to you...

"Tiny Planes, Big Tasks" -- an interesting (if somewhat chilling) article on the prospects for reconaissance via small aerial craft.

Beyond the reach of hobby builders, but still fascinating to read, is the Stanford Mesicopter site.

Similarly, Georga Tech has a site about their Entomopter.

CalTech has a page on their MicroBat.

JPL has a "Planetary Aerobot" homepage here. has a set of pages up on recent developments on small flyers here.

There's an article on a small radio-controlled microblimp here.

The Navy has a page (mostly oriented to commercial bidders for a "build" contract) on a small "DragonEye" flyer here.

The MLB Co. has a particularly nice set of aerobot pages here, and Aerovironment has a good one here as well.

Popular Mechanics has an interesting article on the potential military uses of really tiny aerial craft here.

Last, but not least, there's UC-Berkely's "RoboFly!"

Meanwhile, there is one sketch online of a BEAM glider ('though to my knowledge it hasn't been built yet) -- this would be lofted by a model rocket, then glide down with direction provided by a couple of photosensors. See here for what information there is (pretty much just concept drawings).

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Page author: Eric Seale
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