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This drone uses pierced claws to perch – or grab things


Quadcopter these days She is very precious. It takes off and hovers, takes pictures or something else, then lands and recharges – and blah. If these drones were birds, they would be prey. But the Nature-Inspired Snake, or SNAG, will be their main predator. This new quadcopter has legs, each loaded with four 3D-printed tentacles that trap everything connected to it, whether it’s a rest branch or perhaps, one day, other drones flying somewhere you’re not supposed to. That’s right, it’s a drone that might hunt down drones.

Over the years, quadcopters have perfected the skies, but not the landings: the drone might tip over and perforate its rotors on a somewhat uneven surface. Birds, by contrast, can wrap their feet around just about anything, clinging to the pads of their toes and claws, which gets their purchase on the roughness of the branch. “Everything is a landing strip,” says David Lintink, a biologist and roboticist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who co-authored a new research paper describing the robot in the journal. robotics science. “For us, that’s really inspiring: the whole idea that if you were just going to design different landing gear, you might be able to sit anywhere.”

Courtesy of Will Rodrik

SNAG is specifically inspired by the peregrine falcon, which is a predator among predators. These predatory diving bombs shoot at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, slamming into other birds in midair and sinking their claws into their flesh. It is the fastest animal on earth and an absolute danger in the sky.

Courtesy of Will Rodrik

Weighing in at 1.5 pounds, the SNAG is actually about the size of one, although it doesn’t have wings and a greater number of rotors. When one of the SNAG’s legs comes into contact with a branch, it begins to collapse, as when you bend your knee. The impact causes a tendon in the leg to lengthen, which causes the wires to be pulled on the underside of each finger. The more the leg collapses, the greater the tension in the tendon, until the quick-release mechanism causes a spring to pull the strings more tightly, greatly increasing grip strength. Both claws and toe pads, made of deformable rubber and covered with a grip tape, help hold the SNAG firmly.

Courtesy of Will Rodrik

Essentially, the robot’s legs converted its impact energy with the branch into energy absorption in just 50 milliseconds. The robot has Pushing force“It’s not like landing a helicopter,” says Lentink. “It’s a dynamic descent, a controlled collision.” After landing, an accelerometer in SNAG’s right foot checks the robot’s balance, and actuators in its hips correct its position if necessary. To release the grip, another actuator lowers the tension in the tendon. Because there are elastic bands on the top of the toes, the toes automatically twist into the open position once this tension is released, allowing the SNAG to fly away.

Courtesy of Will Rodrik

In this video, you can watch the robot’s legs work to capture “prey,” the way a peregrine falcon might attack other birds from above. When objects come into contact with the feet, the energy of this impact is converted into energy that the robot uses to stabilize its tentacles.

Courtesy of Will Rodrik

And here it is, taking off in slow motion. SNAG relies on its rotors to produce lift, much like a hummingbird relies on the rapid flapping of its wings to take off. (The real peregrine falcon will already flutter And She pushes her strong legs off the ground.)

One limitation of current SNAG is that it is not independent. To do these experiments, the pilot had to control the robot remotely. But Lentink and his colleagues are working on a way for the robot to locate a branch, calculate how to approach it, and make the landing on its own.

SNAG isn’t the first legged quadcopter. Caltech’s LEg ON Aerial Robotic DrOne (aka Leonardo), which debuted in 2019, has limbs resting on the ground; It was designed to better explore Mars. SNAG and Leonardo follow the same thing, though: energy efficiency. Having a drone hover in place to monitor an area quickly drains the battery. (NASA has already sent a helicopter to Mars, but it has no legs, so its flight times are very short.)

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