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Engineers develop ‘bird’s leg’ robot that can catch objects and perch on branches

Posted: Dec 2, 2021 17:06 GMT

During their development, they used high-speed cameras to analyze the movement of small parrots.

Engineers from Stanford University (USA) created bird inspired robots, that when attached to drones, allows them to grab objects and perch on different types of surfaces.

“It is not easy to imitate how birds fly and perch,” commented William Roderick, one of the authors of the research, adding that “after millions of years of evolution” birds make them take flight or perch on a branch ” it seems so easy “, despite” all the complexity and variability of tree branches found in a forest. “

After an exhaustive study, the laboratories of Stanford engineers Mark Cutkosky and David Lentink were able to develop these robots with legs inspired by those of birds, project that was called ‘stereotypical nature-inspired aerial gripper’ (SNAG, for its acronym in English). “We want to be able to land anywhere, that’s what makes it exciting from an engineering and robotics perspective,” Lentink explained.

To develop the device, the engineers gathered information from one of the smallest species of parrots, using high-speed cameras to observe how they perched on sticks of different sizes and materials, such as wood, foam, sandpaper. or Teflon. In addition, these rods were equipped with sensors whose function was to detect the force used to land, rest and take off.

“We were surprised that they did the same aerial maneuvers no matter what surface they were posing on,” said Roderick, who explained that “they let their legs handle the variability and complexity of the textures.”

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Like parrots, SNAG always makes its landing in the same way, although its legs are based on those of the peregrine falcon, due to the size of the drone. Instead of bones it presents a 3D structure which took 20 reps to perfect, while engines and tanzas they replace muscles and tendons.

Each of the robot’s legs has a motor that allows them to move back and forth and another in charge of handling the grip, an action that lasts 20 milliseconds. Once it lands on a surface, an accelerometer on the right leg tells the robot that it has landed, after which a balancing algorithm is activated that allows it to lean forward to prevent it from falling.

Engineers also tested the ability of this device to catch different objects, like bean bags or tennis balls, and they found that was able to perch on real branches in forests of Oregon.

Regarding the uses of this device, they affirmed that they are numerous and that they could even be incorporated into structures other than drones. “If we could have a robot that acted like a bird, that could unlock completely new ways of studying the environment,” concluded Roderick.

About the author

Donna Miller

Donna is one of the oldest contributors of Gruntstuff and she has a unique perspective with regards to Science which makes her write news from the Science field. She aims to empower the readers with the delivery of apt factual analysis of various news pieces from Science. Donna has 3.5 years of experience in news-based content creation, and she is now an expert at it. She loves journalism, and that is the reason, she moved from a web content writer to a News writer, and she is loving it. She is a fun-loving woman who has very good connections with every team member. She makes the working environment cheerful which improves the team’s work productivity.

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