Science

Grasping Robotic Drone Can Land on a Branch Like a Freakin’ Bird

Comparison of birds and SNAG landings side by side.
GIF: Stanford University / Gizmodo

newly developed, The bio-inspired aerial robot can land on a variety of branches and carry objects such as birds.

“Birds take off and land on a wide variety of complex surfaces,” while “current robots are limited in their ability to grasp dynamically irregular objects,” the opening paragraph of the new research explains. paper Published in Science Robotics. In fact, bird landings look very easy, but “it is not easy to imitate how birds fly and perch,” William Rodrik, a roboticist at Stanford University and one of the study authors, explained in the Stanford Journal. release.

Working with Stanford University architects Mark Cutkosky and David Lintink (now at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands), Rodrik sought to build a good well Android perch. Benefit from insights from Cutkosky Lab, which specializes in animal-inspired robotics, and Letink Lab, which focuses on bird-inspired aerial aircraft Robotics, the team designed, built and tested “a biological robot that can dynamically sit on complex surfaces and pick up irregular objects,” according to the paper.

The new tool is called SNAG, which stands for “Nature-Inspired Air Clutch”. Through “stereotypes,“Engineers point to the dependent behavior that bird landings are involved in. Previous research has shown that birds use the same grasping technique regardless of surface. As Rodrik said, birds “let the feet deal with the diversity and complexity of the surface texture itself.”

SNAG’s feet and legs are modeled after those of Peregrine falcons, but instead of wings, This robot achieves flight with a quadcopter drone. Made of lightweight materials Can carry 10 tonsimes weight. robot “bones “ Made of 3D printed plasticWhile its muscles and tendons are built from motors and fishing lines. Each leg has its own motor and is capable of 14 degrees of freedom. In their paper, the engineers write in their paper, the servomotor on SNAG’s hip “steers the leg directly before sitting and balances the robot after landing by rotating the center of mass toward the center of the chick similar to a bird.”

During landing, the legs absorb the shock energy and turn it into a holding force. Rapid clutch action occurs in intervals of less than 50 milliseconds. Once the claws grab the branch, the ankles lock and the accelerometer, sensing the drop, operates a balancing algorithm to achieve stability. Experiments showed that the timing of the trigger was crucial. “Too early makes the leg too rigid to fully collapse, while too late reduces the energy absorbed and thus increases the potential for damage,” the engineers wrote, adding that “the timing of the onset of tension in the calf muscles and tendons may be just as important in birds and other animals.

SNAG, or nature-inspired air clutch

SNAG, or the Nature-Inspired Air Clutch.”
Photo: William Rodrik

Controlled testing of SNAG was performed in the laboratory and in a forest environment. The robot was launched on a bunch of different tree branches, at different speeds and directions. SNAG was also able to catch objects thrown by hand, such as cornA pit bag and a tennis ball.

A future version of SNAG could conduct wildlife monitoring, search and rescue, and conduct environmental research. “Part of the motivation behind this work was to create tools that we can use to study the natural world,” Rodrik said. “If we can have a robot that can act like birds, it could open up entirely new ways to study the environment.” And in fact, he’s already done some of the latter, as the aerial robot has measured the microclimates in a remote Oregon forest using Onboard temperature and humidity sensors.

SNAG can also provide new insights into biology, and again, it’s done quite a bit of this already. In addition to the above insights about calf muscle timing and the appearance of tendon tension, engineers have learned that when it comes to sitting performance, the order of the toes really doesn’t matter. This appears to indicate that “sitting does not constitute an evolutionary selection pressure that can, by itself, explain the diversity of arboreal birds,” according to the study.

With SNAGs easily installed on landings, the team is now looking to improve pre-landing elements such as situational awareness and flight control. We are very much looking forward to seeing where the engineers take on this exciting project.

more: New Crawler Drone Walking and Flying is a Robobocalypse’s nightmare come true.

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