Tiny Drones Work Together to Open a Heavy Door

Drones Working Together to Open Door

Researchers Matthew Estrada, David L. Christensen, Mark R. Cutkosky from Stanford University and Stefano Mintchev and Dario Floreano from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne have discovered a way to coordinate the movements of tiny drones that work together perform tasks with items at least 40 times their size, such as a heavy door. These “FlyCroTugs” use the same principle behind that of hive insects who innately work together to accomplish feats greater than themselves.

Here, we describe FlyCroTugs, a class of robots that adds to the mobility of MAVs the capability of forceful tugging up to 40 times their mass while adhering to a surface. This class of MAVs, which finds inspiration in the prey transportation strategy of wasps, exploits controllable adhesion or microspines to firmly adhere to the ground and then uses a winch to pull heavy objects. The combination of flight and adhesion for tugging creates a class of 100-gram multimodal MAVs that can rapidly traverse cluttered three-dimensional terrain and exert forces that affect human-scale environments.

Drones Working Together