Small Robots Lifts Massive Loads


According to the technology website The Verge reported on October 24, the micro drone is small, fast and flexible, but its ability to exert is minimal. The situation has changed now. Scientists at Stanford University and the Swiss EPFL have created a miniature drone with a built-in winch that lifts 40 times its weight and performs simple mechanical tasks such as opening the door.

The key to the design is the use of adhesives on the base of the drone: micro-silicon for excavating rough materials such as plaster, carpet or gravel, and ridged silica for gripping glass (inspired by the shape of the gecko’s feet) ). Micro-silicon and ridge silica gel can only adhere to a single-directional surface, which means it can be easily separated. With this, although the micro drone has a mass of 100 grams, it can apply 40 Newtons of force or lift 4 kilograms of weight (about 8 pounds).

Matthew Estrada, a Ph.D. student at the Biomimetic and Smart Operations Laboratory at Stanford University, said the design was inspired by nature and he co-author of the paper. The team saw small flying insects as flying insects closest to micro drones and studied how the wasps move their prey more than themselves.

Estrada told The Verge, “The wasps often catch large prey and move them back to the nest. But if they don’t have enough muscle power to fly with their prey, they must drag the prey onto the ground and catch it with their claws. And move it a little bit.” These miniature drones with winches are called FlyCroTugs and work the same way.

What is the use of this miniature drone? At least you can open the door. Although Estrada pointed out that the process of team scrambling is very difficult. They had to build a hook that fits the door handle and took a few minutes to properly line the drone. Estrada said: “This is very challenging because you must ensure that the steps are correct.”

However, this is only a proof of concept, and the idea that we can create a maneuvering micro drone is very attractive. A one-time, low-cost drone team can work together in the future, such as cleaning up rubble for large robots in a disaster. Most small flying objects interact with the environment through these mechanisms, and micro drones are learning the same skills.