This bird-like drone can perch on branches, catch objects
Aerial drones can perform some pretty impressive feats, from high-speed dovetails to hovering almost perfectly still for long periods of time. But in terms of landing, drones have nothing on birds. Benefiting from millions of years of evolution, most birds can turn nearly anything — a branch, a telephone wire, an overpass sign — into a perching pad. Drones, in contrast, are generally limited to landing on regular surfaces.
Aiming to build more versatile flying drones, researchers have spent years studying the particular ways birds execute their graceful landing maneuvers on a wide variety of natural and artificial objects. The results have shown that, though birds can land on many different surfaces, their landing strategy typically remains the same no matter the surface.
A team of researchers recently tried to replicate that avian landing strategy in a quadcopter robot outfitted with a 3D-printed structure that mimics the grasping functions of bird legs and feet. The results…