Nav: Home

A 'worker' that flies: Chinese researchers design novel flying robot

November 08, 2019

Skyscrapers are rising rapidly around the world, continuously transforming city skylines. However, their repair and maintenance is becoming more and more difficult. So, who can safely perform the job? Will a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man help out?

No, but Chinese researchers at the Shenyang Institute of Automation (SIA) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have designed a promising alternative.

Recently, they reported the development of a contact aerial manipulator system that shows high flexibility and strong mission adaptability. They presented their findings at the 2019 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2019), an international conference on robotics and intelligent systems held from Nov. 4-8 in Macao.

Traditionally, regular inspection of high-rise buildings with glass curtain walls has been conducted by humans with gondola systems, which can be very dangerous, costly and inefficient.

The new robot represents a major advance in safety and efficiency. It comprises a single-degree-of-freedom manipulator cube-frame end effector and a hex-rotor UAV system.

Compared with general wall-climbing robots, it is capable of avoiding obstacles and even jumping over grooves on wall surfaces. It can also conduct interactive operations while in flight. Importantly, it has been designed so that the whole system's contact force can be controlled precisely without any force sensors.

"How to control the force is considered the most difficult problem, since flying robots usually are sensitive to external force," said MENG Xiangdong, the robot's designer.

MENG said realizing this objective required first making a flying robot with closed loop control behave like a regular spring system. He said that the elastic coefficient could then be easily changed by altering the control parameters. "It means that we can take the robot as a spring system so that the contact process can be safe enough," said MENG.

The research team also conducted experiments to test the system. For example, the researchers fixed a light switch to a wall, then had the robot press the switch to turn the light on and off. The robot was able to safely and smoothly operate the switch via precise force control. In another experiment, the robot smoothly moved along a glass wall, exerting fixed pressure. The robot then used a pen attached to the end of the aerial manipulator to write "SIA" - for Shenyang Institute of Automation - on the glass wall.

"In the near future, we might see an extensive use of this new system in large infrastructure maintenance, and other special applications, such as scientific sampling." said MENG.
-end-


Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

Related Robot Articles:

Soft robot, unplugged
It's balloon art on steroids: a pneumatic, shape-changing soft robot capable of navigating its environment without requiring a tether to a stationary power source.
Trash talk hurts, even when it comes from a robot
Trash talking has a long and colorful history of flustering game opponents, and now researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have demonstrated that discouraging words can be perturbing even when uttered by a robot.
A robot with a firm yet gentle grasp
Human hands are skilled at manipulating a range of objects.
You can't squash this roach-inspired robot
A new insect-sized robot created by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, can scurry across the floor at nearly the speed of a darting cockroach -- and it's nearly as hardy as a cockroach, too: Try to squash this robot under your foot, and more than likely, it will just keep going.
In the shoes of a robot: The future approaches
Identifying with someone is an exercise that makes us understand them deeply, empathize with them, and helps us overcome mistrust and prejudice.
Now your phone can become a robot that does the boring work
Purdue University researchers have developed a smartphone app that allows a user to easily program any robot to perform a task, dramatically bringing down the costs of building and programming mobile robots.
Better together: human and robot co-workers
More and more processes are being automated and digitised. Self-driving delivery vehicles, such as forklifts, are finding their way into many areas -- and companies are reporting potential time and cost savings.
Robot therapists need rules
Interactions with artificial intelligence (AI) will become an increasingly common aspect of our lives.
Hummingbird robot uses AI to soon go where drones can't
Purdue University researchers have engineered flying robots that behave like hummingbirds, trained by machine learning algorithms based on various techniques the bird uses naturally every day.
How to train your robot (to feed you dinner)
Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a robotic system that can feed people who need someone to help them eat.
More Robot News and Robot Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Clint Smith
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked massive protests nationwide. This hour, writer and scholar Clint Smith reflects on this moment, through conversation, letters, and poetry.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Nina
Producer Tracie Hunte stumbled into a duet between Nina Simone and the sounds of protest outside her apartment. Then she discovered a performance by Nina on April 7, 1968 - three days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tracie talks about what Nina's music, born during another time when our country was facing questions that seemed to have no answer, meant then and why it still resonates today.  Listen to Nina's brother, Samuel Waymon, talk about that April 7th concert here.