Researchers at Stanford University have succeeded in transforming a drone into a real bird capable of perching on any branch. Printed in 3D, the mechanism is inspired by the legs of raptors.
Nature often inspires researchers, who attempt to duplicate techniques that have taken millions of years to evolve. Engineers from based their new invention on the . Their article, published in the journal , details how they transformed a simple as a raptor capable of clinging to branches and grabbing objects.
Rather than trying to duplicate the, they were only inspired by his paws. They created two legs that end in clamps, mounted on a fairly classic, to allow it to perch on any branch.
Like a bird, these robotic legs added to a drone allow it to cling to branches. © Stanford University
3D printed legs
The two legs are made of a 3D printed structure similar to the bones of birds, motors and wire.to replace muscles and tendons. The system was named Snag (stereotyped nature-inspired aerial grasper). Each of the two limbs contains a motor to control the leg and a second to pinch. Everything has been designed to absorb the impact and transform it into a gripping force.
The mechanism can be triggered in just 20 milliseconds. Once hooked to a branch, the ankles lock in place and an accelerometer indicates thatarose, starting an algorithm that balances it. The same mechanism also works for catching objects on the fly. Such a robot could be used for rescue operations, or simply to monitor the environment thanks to its ability to land on any natural surface and thus not be limited by the very short autonomy of .