Flying Robots Can Now Swoop Down And Grab You

Senior Contributor
03.15.13 13 Comments

Hey, remember when BigDog grew a head that could throw cinder blocks? Thought roboticists were out of ideas that make James Cameron think “Damn, I should have put that in The Terminator?”

Nope! Meet the robot that will one day swoop from the heavens and snatch you up like Thorondor picking up a snack.

Courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania, here’s a robot flying out of the air and grabbing an object:

Yeah, scale that up and you’ve got some nightmare fuel.

It is a pretty neat feat of engineering, though:

When the team studied the eagle’s behaviour, they noticed that the bird employed a useful trick to buy more time to grab its prey. The eagle would sweep its legs and claws backwards as its talons closed on a fish, so there was no need to slow down.

The team have mimicked the eagle’s strategy by attaching a 3D-printed, three-fingered claw to a 10-centimetre-long motorised leg. With the appendage fixed below its centre of mass, the drone can snatch a stationary object as it flies by.

Also at Drexel apparently they’re working on software that allows flying robots to reconfigure the load they pick up so they can fly more easily. But don’t worry, they probably won’t eat you.


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