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ACM TechNews

Inflatable Drone Can Bounce Off Walls, Perch on Nearly Anything

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The perching drone.

This drone can perch on nearly anything, researchers say.

Credit: Arizona State University

Arizona State University (ASU) researchers have developed an inflatable drone that can perch on nearly any object.

Inspired by the physics of bird landings, the drone uses a lightweight gripper comprised of spring steel that is activated during a "controlled collision" to curl around the target object.

The amount of air in the drone can be adjusted to give it a stiff or soft airframe, with the soft body giving it the ability to perch.

Said ASU's Wenlong Zhang, "We purely rely on the material properties such that it can always grasp without consuming any energy."

Only a small amount of energy is necessary to inflate the gripper to straighten the spring steel when the drone takes off again.

Although soft-body drones are less efficient and accurate than those with a rigid airframe, the collision-resistant airframe could be valuable in environments with numerous obstacles, like in disaster areas.

From New Scientist
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