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Falcon-inspired drone has legs, will perch and land

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Posted January 30, 2014
Falcon-inspired drone has legs, will perch and land
Adding legs to drones targeted for observation is the pursuit of a company with roots at MIT Media Lab and NASA. Bhargav Gajjar of Vishwa Robotics in Brighton, Massachusetts, designed the legs for small drones.

A report in New Scientist said Gajjar, like so many roboticists exploring the workings of nature, studied dozens of bird species looking for inspiration. Using a high-speed camera, he recorded how they land. His design of the drone’s legs are based on those of the American kestrel. A drone for reconnaissance has much to learn from this bird, a small falcon often seen perched on power lines. They are sit-and-wait predators. They keep watch for food, insects and small mammals, and the birds drop rapidly when prey appears, make their capture, and return to the perch to eat.

Like the kestrel, the drone can be made to get into the right position for landing. A remote computer uses footage from a camera fitted to the drone to get the drone into the correct landing position. The bird-like drone brakes above its landing site and performs a controlled stall in order to touch down. Extremely sharp claws give the drone a grip that, said New Scientist, is difficult to break.

New Scientist’s piece presents the key advantages of effectiveness and power savings in this type of drone: “A perching drone can occupy any convenient vantage point, making it stealthier and giving a closer view than one circling overhead. Perching uses no power, and a perching drone recharging from solar cells could operate indefinitely.”

Read more at: Phys.org

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