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This autonomous ornithopter lands and perches on a single claw • InNewCL

This autonomous ornithopter lands and perches on a single claw • InNewCL

#autonomous #ornithopter #lands #perches #single #claw #InNewCL Welcome to InNewCL, here is the new story we have for you today:

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Isn’t it wonderful that there are researchers out there whose job is simply to build a robotic bird? That’s certainly the goal of this lab, whose flapping wing drone or ornithopter has now been outfitted with a grabbing claw to rest it on a nearby branch or maybe even a finger – an ability that could make it a much more handy tool.

There’s a good reason why flying has evolved over time and used flapping wings – for one, they’re much easier for a bird or insect to breed than rotors or jets. Elegance is a hallmark of nature’s design, and winged creatures fly or glide with a minimum of energy and plenty of grace.

It should come as no surprise that scientists have been struggling to recreate winged flapping flight in robotic form for decades, although, like all biomimetic research, they have met with mixed success. But the École Polytechnique Fedérale de Lausanne – one of the most famous technical universities in Switzerland – and the University of Seville are doing quite well.

The European multi-agency GRIFFIN project, let’s first admit, has the most far-fetched backronym I’ve ever come across, and I’ve come across many: General compliant airborne robotic manipulation system integrating fixed and flapping wings to increase range and safety to increase . My goodness!

The wing flight portion of the project has been ongoing for years, with various achievements recorded on the project’s YouTube page and website. You can see it flapping around in this recent video.

But the problem with this method, as with many flights, is energy. Too little power and you can’t fly long – but too big a battery and you can’t fly at all! (By the way, there’s a newfound respect for cattle-grabbing eagles.) There’s a balance to be struck between size and capacity in the lab. But the recently added grabbing claw might help make that less of a concern.

Photo credit: EPFL/Raphael Zufferey

The claw (only one to save weight) had to be strong but light like the rest of the ornithopter, be able to grip poles of different sizes, and communicate with the GRIFFIN’s perception engine. The one they designed synchronizes with the movement of flapping, and its design with a kind of silicone band as the first contact grips gently but firmly and without shaking the robot.

Just don’t put your finger in there. Photo credit: EPFL/Raphael Zufferey

“Once an ornithopter has mastered autonomous landing on a branch, it has the potential to take on specific tasks, such as unobtrusively collecting biological samples or taking measurements on a tree. Finally, it could even land on artificial structures, which could open up further areas of application,” said Raphael Zufferey, a postdoc at EPFL who is currently working on GRIFFIN in Seville.

It’s not just that it can land on a branch and do something; It’s like it doesn’t have to go all the way back to the surface. Expending half your energy getting from the ground to 10 meters in the air really limits your options. But if you can land on a branch, charge up a bit (why not put a little solar cell on it?), do some work like taking pictures or sampling, then hop to another branch on the other side and do the same… it looks less like a tech demo and a lot more like a capable robot bird.

Zufferey hopes to continue development in this direction; the grab really opens things up for the project. But they’re not the only ones out there: hummingbird-inspired drones, dragonfly-inspired drones, even bee-inspired drones are being developed for different purposes and are at varying stages of readiness. Just don’t tell the “birds aren’t real” people about it.

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