By Ryan Sager
September 19, 2014

Sure, drones can take videos of Martha Stewart’s farm and maybe even save the environment. But… can they unscrew a bottle cap? Play Twister? Spin a dreidel? Do anything that involves having arms? Well, now we have a drone with arms—that can fly and turn a valve wheel mid-air.

Above is the video, and here’s the paper’s title and abstract (flip to 1:00 in the video to see the really cool stuff):

“Towards Valve Turning using a Dual-Arm Aerial Manipulator,” by Christopher Korpela, Matko Orsag, and Paul Oh, from Drexel University.

We propose a framework for valve turning using an aerial vehicle endowed with dual multi-degree of freedom manipulators. A tightly integrated control scheme between the aircraft and manipulators is mandated for tasks requiring aircraft to environmental coupling. Feature detection is well-established for both ground and aerial vehicles and facilitates valve detection and arm tracking. Force feedback upon contact with the environment provides compliant motions in the presence of position error and coupling with the valve. We present recent results validating the valve turning framework using the proposed aircraft-arm system during flight tests.

I, for one, welcome our new armed-drone overlords.

(via IEEE Spectrum)


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