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Stanford engineers made SNAG – a falcon-inspired robot

Stanford engineers made SNAG – a falcon-inspired robot

The falcon-inspired SNAG drone uses claws to grasp objects, sit on branches and surfaces of various types, sizes and textures.

Nature is an inexhaustible source of robot design inspiration, so of course flying robots will draw a lot from birds. Stanford engineers have now developed robotic hawk-inspired claws that allow drones to sit on many different surfaces as well as grab or catch objects.

Birds were shaped by millions of years of evolution, which gave drone designers plenty of ideas. The addition of feathers, changing wings, or streamlined bodies can make drones more efficient flyers – but what about landing? Most multi-rotor drones require a clear landing site and cannot use different surfaces. Birds, on the other hand, can fly in and perch on many different surfaces and shapes without thinking about it.

So for this new study, Stanford scientists set out to design a pair of bird legs that could provide drones with the same versatility. They called the system SNAG (Stereotyped Nature-inspired Nature-inspired Aerial Grasper – a four-type air gripper inspired by nature) and it is based specifically on the legs and claws of a peregrine falcon.

SNAG has motors that act like muscles and cables that act like tendons. The leg absorbs the force of the impact and causes the claws to close around the perch within 20 milliseconds. The cube then locks and the accelerometer registers that the robot has stopped. The balancing algorithm then stabilizes the robot to keep it from tilting forward.

Scientists say the system allows flying robots to stop on the surface under a variety of conditions. Tests in the forest have shown that the SNAG can land and stick to branches of varying thickness, texture, broken limbs and branches that are dry or slippery with water. In other tests, the team showed that these responsive claws can catch objects that are thrown at them, such as bean bags and tennis balls.

The team says SNAG systems can help drones rest and possibly recharge between flights to increase their range. They can also be used to carry loads, pick up and put down items without stopping.

Similar claw systems have been shown to grab objects or help move furniture, but SNAG may be more useful to help drones land in a variety of natural environments.

The research has been published in the journal Science Robotics. You can see SNAG in action in the video below.

source: Stanford | New Atlas