Drone Designers Look to ‘Animal Kingdom’ for Inspiration

Photo courtesy of blog.angelmedflight.com

Photo courtesy of blog.angelmedflight.com

Earlier this week, the folks at Gizmodo visited the RoboUniverse conference in New York City to get a sneak peek of the future of drones. What they found is that many engineers are looking to the “animal kingdom for design ideas.” Here are a few examples:

Eagle-like grasping: Researchers want drones to mimic the actions of eagles which can swoop down and “put an airborne death grip on its prey.” Flying robots with claws can help pull important items from rubble after a disaster or hazardous conditions. They are also working with robots that can carry small loads, like eagles can, and are experimenting with robots carrying tiny parcels on a string.

Bee-like swarming: Researchers are interested in creating smaller drones that can be dispatched at once, travel en masse, and can bump into each other much like bees do thus creating an “artificial swarm.” A four-inch drone known as “Pico” has been developed which is .04-pounds, can fly 20 feet per second, and is encased in a cage that “allows for care-free collisions.”

Ant-like coordinating: We all know ants are great at self-organizing so researchers are working to develop robots that can split up into cooperative teams. Currently, researchers are working to create leader-follower networks of four or five drones that adapt when new members are added by increasing the circle but remaining in formation.

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