Researchers build drone that dives and grabs objects like a bird of prey

Posted at 4:14 PM, Mar 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-30 16:14:01-04

If you’re a fan of sci-fi movies you may not like this.

A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has built a flying drone that can swoop down and grab objects just like a bird of prey.

Researchers at the  university’s GRASP team (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception) believe that diving drones can make for drones that weigh less and use less power, using acceleration velocity gained from diving to quickly regain altitude, according to Danger Room.

It may even be possible to build drones that perch. The drone is certainly lightweight enough: the quadrotor and the gripper-claw combined weigh less than a pound and a half.

The GRASP team are not newcomers to the field of out-there robots — like the autonomous microchopper swarm the team designed to fly in formation. Now the researchers believe swooping eagle-bots could make for drones that “achieve immediate silence in stealth operations,” and help “improve mission duration by reducing hover time,” (.pdf) according to a recent paper by GRASP team members Justin Thomas, Joe Polin, Koushil Sreenath and Vijay Kumar, which the team will present at the IDETC/CIE tech conference in August. The drones could also be used in “rescue operations where speed and time are critical, and in operations requiring [an unmanned aerial vehicle] to quickly swoop down and pick up an object of interest.”

Read more at Danger Room.

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