Researchers have built tiny microdrones capable of tugging open a by 40 times their weight. They took inspiration from predatory…
Researchers have built microdrones, capable of tugging open a by 40 times their weight, by studying the biology of predatory wasps.
Robotics researchers at Stanford University and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland wanted to find a way for tiny microdrones to exert “forceful tugging,” so they turned to biomimetics ̵
1; meaning they took inspiration from the natural world.
They observed that wars were able to carry away large prey by dragging it along the ground. They used this behavior as a model when creating small microdrones, which they called “FlyCroTugs.”
The drones are equipped with cables and winches, and can attach the cable to an object and then anchor themselves to the ground before starting to spool
Using this technology, two FlyCroTugs, each weighing 100 grams, were able to open a by 40 times their mass.
You can watch the microdrones opening the door here:
Part of the FlyCroTug’s design took its cue from another animal. Famous for clinging to walls with their sticky feet, the gecko lizard provided inspiration for the drones’ adhesive.
“Teams of these drones could work cooperatively to perform more complex manipulation tasks,” Stanford researcher Matt Estrada told IEEE Spectrum, a magazine dedicated to engineering and applied sciences.
“We demonstrated opening a door, but this approach could be extended to turn a ball valve, moving a piece of debris, or retrieving an object of interest from a disaster zone.”
Der er fortsatt mange problemer at overkomme før de tiny drones kunne bruges i feltet. At the moment their battery lasts for five minutes. The FlyCroTug also requires a human to pilot it, as the researchers have yet to develop any sensing or AI systems for it.
You can read the researchers’ full paper on building the FlyCroTug drone here.
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