A team of engineers at the prestigious American University of Stanford have developed automatic clips that can be attached to drones to transform them in robotic birds in able to grasp objects or lean on different surfaces.
These new capabilities would allow flying robots to conserve battery power rather than having to sit still, such as when searching for survivors, or help biologists sample more easily in forests.
“We want to be in capable of landing anywhere, so it’s exciting from an engineering and robotics standpoint, ”said David Lintink, co-author of the Science Robotics article on innovation on Wednesday.
As is often the case with robotics, the project was inspired by animal behavior – in this case the way in which flights land and cling to tree branches – to overcome technical difficulties.
But imitating these birds, which millions of years of evolution have allowed them to cling to branches of different sizes or shapes that are sometimes covered in lichens or cause skidding due to rain, is no easy feat.
To this end, the team at Stanford used high-speed cameras to study how baby parrots land on perches of various sizes and materials: wood, foam, sandpaper and Teflon.
There are also sensors positioned on the branches that record the force with which the birds land and leave.
Scientists noted that while the landing movement was the same in each position, the parrots used their paws to adapt to the differences they encountered.
More specifically, birds wrap their claws around the site they perch on and use soft, folded pads to ensure good adhesion.
To give it the ability to withstand a small drone with four propellers, scientists designed clamps based on the model of a peregrine falcon’s legs.
The printed skeleton in 3D includes motors and fishing line for use as muscles and tendons.
It takes 20 milliseconds to attach the clamps, then the accelerometer tells the robot that the landing is complete.
Finally, the algorithm allows the mechanical bird to maintain balance on a tree branch.
The robot was in able to grab objects that have been thrown at him, such as tennis balls, and land in actual conditions in the forests of the Northwest of the United States.
Read More About: Technology News