A closed door is just one of many obstacles that set no limits on a new type of flight, micro and tow-boat, a so-called FlyCroTug. Equipped with advanced gripping technologies and the ability to move and pull objects around, two FlyCroTugs can fold the door handle together and open the door.
Developed in the labs of Mark Cutkosky, the Fletcher Jones chair in the school of English: www.dlr.de/en/desktopdefault.aspx/t…_read-10937/ FlyCroTugs are micro – aircraft developed by the Researchers have been modified to anchor themselves to various surfaces using adhesives inspired by the feet of geckos and insects. Cutkosky's Laboratory
With these attachment mechanisms, FlyCroTugs can pull objects up to 40 times their weight, such as Door handles in a scenario or cameras and water bottles in a rescue situation. Similar vehicles can only lift objects by twice their own weight with aerodynamic forces.
"If you're a small robot, the world is full of great obstacles," said Matthew Estrada, a Stanford student and lead author of a Paper on FlyCroTugs, published October 25, in Science Robotics . "Combining the aerodynamic forces of our aircraft with the interacting forces we create with the attachment mechanisms resulted in something very mobile, very powerful and micro."
Researchers say the small size of the FlyCroTugs allows them to navigate through tight spaces and close to people, making them useful for search and rescue. The tiny robots cling tightly to surfaces as they pull might be able to move debris or position a camera to evaluate a treacherous area.
An example from nature
As with most of Cutkosky's projects In the lab, the FlyCroTugs were inspired by nature. Hoping to have an aircraft that is fast, small, and maneuverable, but capable of handling large loads, the researchers looked for wasps.
"Wasps can fly quickly to a piece of food and then when the thing is too heavy" This is a kind of start to the approach we have made, "said Cutkosky, who is co-author of the paper. [1
Each FlyCroTug has a winch to tug with a cable and either microspin or gecko glue. Apart from these fixed properties, they are otherwise highly modifiable. The position of the grippers may vary depending on the surface on which they will land. In addition, researchers can add parts for ground-based movements such as wheels. Bringing all these features to a small aircraft weighing twice the weight of a golf ball was not an easy task, according to the researchers.
"Humans tend to regard drones as machines that fly and watch the world, but flying insects do many other things – like walking, climbing, grasping, building – and social insects can even work together to multiply forces" said Floreano, the senior author on the paper. "With this work, we demonstrate that small drones capable of anchoring to the environment and interacting with other drones can perform tasks typically assigned to humanoid robots or much larger machines."
Interacting with the World  Drones and other small flying robots seem to be the rage these days, but the FlyCroTugs – with their ability to navigate, anchor and pull to remote locations – are covered by Cutkosky into a more specific niche.
"There are many laboratories around the world working with small drones or aircraft, but if you look at those who are thinking about how these little vehicles can physically interact with the world, it's a much smaller set." , he said. 19659002] The researchers can successfully open a door with two FlyCroTugs. They also had a fly on a crumbling structure and pulled up a camera to look inside. Next, they hope to work on the autonomous control and logistics of flying multiple vehicles at once.
"The tools to create vehicles like this are becoming more accessible," said Estrada. "I'm excited about the prospect of integrating these attachment mechanisms into the designer's tool belt so that robots can use the interaction forces with their environment and use them for useful purposes."