Science & Technology

Robots with bird paws can stop and grab

Using falcon-like legs and legs, engineers created a robot that could perch and carry bird-like objects.

Like snowflakes, the two branches are not the same. Size, shape and texture may vary. Some may be wet, covered with moss, or burst at a branch. Still, birds can land on almost all of them.

“It’s not easy to imitate the appearance of a bird. Flies and sea bass“William Roderick, the lead author of a new paper on bird robots, said. Science robotics..

“After millions of years of evolution, takeoff and landing have become very easy to see, despite the complexity and variety of tree branches in the forest.”

Years of research into animal-inspired robots in the labs of Mark Katkoski and David Lentink at Stanford University, where Roderick was a graduate student, allowed researchers to create their own stationary robots.

When attached to a quadcopter drone, their “stereotyped nature-inspired aerial grippers”, or SNAGs, form robots that can fly around, catch and carry objects, and stop on various surfaces. .. Showing the potential diversity of this study, researchers used it to compare the toe arrangements of different species of birds and measure the microclimate of distant Oregon forests.

How a bird robot works

In a previous study by researchers on the second smallest parrot species, the parrot, small birds moved back and forth between special perches while being recorded by five high-speed cameras. Perches (representing different sizes and materials such as wood, foam, sandpaper, and teflon) also included sensors that captured the physical forces associated with bird landing, perches, and takeoff.

“What surprised us was that they did the same. Aerial exercises, Regardless of the surface they landed on, “says Roderick. “They let the foot handle the volatility and complexity of the surface texture itself.” This routine behavior seen in all bird landings is why the “S” in SNAG stands for “stereotype.” ..

Like parrots, SNAG approaches all landings in the same way. However, to explain the size of the quadcopter, SNAG is based on the legs of a falcon. Instead of bones, there are 3D-printed structures (which require 20 iterations to complete), and motors and fishing lines that replace muscles and tendons.

Each leg has its own motor for moving back and forth and another motor for handling grips. Inspired by the way the tendons circulate around the bird’s ankle, a similar mechanism in the robot’s legs absorbs the landing impact energy and passively converts it into gripping force.

As a result, the robot is equipped with a particularly powerful and fast clutch that can be triggered to close in 20 milliseconds. When wrapped around a branch, the SNAG’s ankle locks, an accelerometer on the right foot reports that the robot has landed, and triggers a balance adjustment algorithm to stabilize the robot.

During COVID-19, Roderick moved equipment, including a 3D printer, from Lentink’s laboratory to the countryside of Oregon, where he set up a basement for controlled testing.

So he sent SNAG along a railroad system that launches the robot on different surfaces at predefined speeds and directions to see how the robot works in different scenarios. With the SNAG in place, Roderick also confirmed the robot’s ability to catch objects thrown by hand, such as prey dummies, cornhole bean bags, and tennis balls. Finally, Roderick and SNAG set foot in a nearby forest to do some test runs in the real world.

Overall, SNAG has performed so well that the next step in development could focus on what happens before landing, such as robot situational awareness and improved flight control.

Tools for studying the natural world

This robot has a myriad of possible applications such as search and rescue and wildfire monitoring. It can be installed in technologies other than drones.

SNAG’s proximity to birds also gives it its own insights. Bird biology.. For example, researchers ran a robot with two different toe arrangements. There are three anisodactyls in the front and one in the back like a falcon, and two zygodactyls in the front and two in the back like a parrot.

They were surprised to find that there was little performance difference between the two. For Roderick, whose parents are both biologists, one of SNAG’s most exciting and possible applications is environmental research. To that end, researchers also installed temperature and humidity sensors on the robot that Roderick used to record the microclimate of Oregon.

“Part of the fundamental motivation for this task was to create tools that could be used to study the natural world,” says Roderick. “With a robot that behaves like a bird, we can unleash a whole new way of environmental research.”

Lentink, co-chair of the Biomimetic Group, associate professor of science and engineering at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, and lead author of the dissertation, noted that Roderick was obsessed with what proved to be a long-standing project. I admire you. “It was really Will who wrote his NSF fellowship on aerial robots for environmental monitoring, which he talked to several ecologists at Berkeley six years ago and then started this study.” Lentink says.

“This task of monitoring rainforest biodiversity now has a $ 10 million XPRIZE, which proves Will’s research to be timely.”

The Air Force Science Research Bureau and the National Science Foundation have funded this work.

sauce: Stanford University

Robots with bird paws can stop and grab Robots with bird paws can stop and grab

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