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UD engineering team to appear on cable’s Science Channel

5:10 p.m., March 8, 2004--A professor of mechanical engineering at UD and five of his students will be featured in a documentary about miniature robots on The Science Channel cable TV network on Wednesday and Thursday, March 10-11.

The 30-minute episode, part of the network’s “Techknowledge” series, will air at 8:30 and 11:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 10, and at 4:30 and 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 and 3:30 p.m., Thursday, March 11.

The professor, Sunil Agrawal, three graduate students, Zaeem Khan, Sean McIntosh and Raj Madangopal, and two undergraduate students, Matt McDonald and Thomas Shipman, will describe the design and construction of small robotic devices that mimic the flight of birds and insects, in particular, the hummingbird and the hawkmoth.

“We want to develop flying machines that are small, unmanned and intelligent so that we can use them as surveillance tools,” Agrawal said. “But, from a science point of view, the design of these machines is very challenging because the wing motion is essential to be able to achieve the right flying behavior of a bird or insect.”

Agrawal said that once fully developed, the devices will be able to carry miniature cameras and fly in flock-like formations to send surveillance data back to a central computer for processing.

Such detailed information would be of value in industrial and military applications and also could be used in rescue operations to map the interiors of collapsed buildings.

The Science Channel is part of Discovery Networks, U.S., a unit of
Discovery Communications, Inc., which also operates and manages several other networks, including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and the Travel Channel.

Article by Martin Mbugua

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