Scientists have worked on small flying robots that can carry objects up to 40 times their weights. Even they can close doors. Scientists also making them useful for search and rescue operations.
The name of the microwork vehicles is FlyCroTugs. It can anchor themselves to multiple surfaces using adhesives. The concept of the project is inspired by the feet of geckos and insects.
These micro air vehicles can pull the objects up to 40 times their weight like carrying cameras and water bottles in a rescue situation.
Similar vehicles can only raise objects about twice from their own weight using aerodynamic forces, according to the researchers.
Matthew Estrada, a graduate student at Standford University in the US said “Combining the aerodynamic forces of our aerial vehicle along with interaction forces that we generate with the attachment mechanism resulted in something that was very mobile, very forceful and micro as well”
The researchers also said that the size of the FlyCroTugs is very small. So, it can easily navigate through-sung spaces and fairly close to people. It helps a great in the search and rescue missions.
It is holding tightly to surface as they tug. The tiny robot can potentially move pieces of debris and position a camera to evaluate a treacherous area.
The researcher said that these vehicles are fast, small and highly maneuverable but also able to move large loads.
Mark Cutkosky, from Stanford University, said “Wasps can fly rapidly to a piece of food, and then if the thing’s too heavy to take off with, they drag it along the ground. So this was sort of the beginning inspirations for the approach we took.”
The researcher studies on the wasp prey capture and transport. They identify the ratio of flight-related muscle to total mass that determines how a wasp flies with its prey.
They also follow the lead of the wasp in having many attachment options that depend on where the FlyCroTugs land.
For having smooth surfaces, the robot has gecko grippers, non-sticky adhesives which mimic a gecko’s intricate toe structures. It also holds on by making intramolecular forces between the adhesive and the surface.
In the rough surfaces, these robots are provided with 32 microspines, a series of fishhook-like metal spines that can automatically latch onto small pits in a surface.
The vehicles have a winch with a cable and also have microspine or gecko adhesive in order to tug. Along with these features, they are highly modifiable.
The location of the grippers can be depending on the surface where they will be landing. The researcher also said that they add parts for a ground-based movement like wheels.
The researchers successfully open a door with two FlyCroTugs. They also haul up a camera to see inside.
In future, they are working on autonomous control and flying several vehicles at once.
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