Stanford University engineers has built robotic graspers by taking inspiration from how birds land and perch on branches. These robotic graspers can feet on drones and they are able to catch objects and grip various surfaces.
This advancement will help flying robots to conserve power in situations where they otherwise had to hover. We can give examples of search and rescue missions or to help ecologists to collect data in the forest.
David Lentink, a co-designer of the robotic graspers said that they want these graspers to land anywhere and this is the most exciting part of the graspers.
Before engineers build these graspers, roboticists used to depend on animals to resolve difficult engineering problems. But it was not at all easy to make a robotic grasper that will mimic birds.
Branches of tress differ in sizes and texture. This is why the researchers have gathered data about parrotlets and observed how the birds’ lands on perches of different sizes and materials.
They have also jointed sensors on the perches to capture the level of force the birds put to land and take off.
Scientists found out that birds approach every landing the same way. They only use their feet to deal with any variability.
Birds have soft and wrinkly toe pads which provide them reliable friction to hold any perch.
The team of the scientists built a grasper large enough to support a small quadcopter drone. The clutching action of the grasper takes 20 milliseconds to grasp any branch of a tree.
The bird graspers have successfully caught items thrown at bean bags and also successfully landed in forests of Oregon.