For rough surfaces, these robots are equipped with 32 microspines, a series of fish-hook-like metal spikes that can individually latch onto small pits in a surface. In order to tug a payload, each FlyCroTug has a winch with a cable and either microspines or gecko grippers. Those are its only fixed features; the rest are highly modifiable. The location of the grippers can be moved, depending on the expected landing surface, and the researchers can add parts – such as wheels – for ground locomotion. Next, the researchers want to work on autonomous control and the logistics of flying several vehicles at once.
This work was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the National Centre for Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics, and the United States Army Research Laboratory MAST program.
EPFL - www.epfl.ch
Stanford University – www.stanford.edu