A Nimble Robot That Can Land and Perch Like a Bird

Stanford University researcher William Roderic, PhD created a “stereotyped nature-inspired aerial grasper” (SNAG), an incredibly nimble 3D printed robot with a flight pattern modeled after a small parrot and legs that mimic that of a peregrine falcon for perching and carrying objects.

With feet and legs like a peregrine falcon, engineers have created a robot that can perch and carry objects like a bird..

The SNAG is mounted onto a quadrocopter that gives it flight. From there, the robot can fly around, catch and carry objects, and perch on a variety of surfaces. The original inspiration for SNAG came from a parrotlet, a small species of parrot. However, in order for the SNAG to work efficiently, the 3D printed legs and feet were modeled after a much larger peregrine falcon.

Just like the parrotlets, SNAG approaches every landing in the same way. But, in order to account for the size of the quadcopter, SNAG is based on the legs of a peregrine falcon. In place of bones, it has a 3D-printed structure – which took 20 iterations to perfect – and motors and fishing line stand-in for muscles and tendons.

Roderick sees the usefulness of SNAG in a variety of ways.

There are countless possible applications for this robot, including search and rescue and wildfire monitoring; it can also be attached to technologies other than drones. SNAG’s proximity to birds also allows for unique insights into avian biology.