Journal article Open Access

A bio-inspired manipulator with claw prototype for winged aerial robots: Benchmark for design and control

Daniel Feliu Talegón; José Ángel Acosta,; Alejandro Suarez; Anibal Ollero

Nature exhibits many examples of birds, insects and flying mammals with flapping wings
and with limbs offering some functionalities. Although in robotics, there are some examples of flying
robots with wings, it has not been yet a subject to add them some manipulation-like capabilities,
similar to ones that exhibit birds. The resultant flying robot (ornithopter) will improve the existent aerial manipulators based on multirotor platforms in terms of longer flight duration of missions and safety in proximity to humans. Moreover, the manipulation capabilities will allow them to perch in inaccessible places and perform some kind of tasks with the body perched. This work presents a first prototype of lightweight manipulator to be mounted in ornithopters and a new control methodology
to balance them while they are perched and following a desired path with the end effector, imitating
their beaks. This will make possible applications, such as the contact inspection following a path
with an ultrasonic sensor mounted in the end-effector. Themanipulator prototype imitates the birds
with two-link legs and a body link with an actuated limb, being all active links except for the first
passive one with a grabbing mechanism in its base, imitating a claw. Unlike standard manipulators,
the lightweight requirement limits the frame size and makes necessary the use of micro motors.
Successful experimental results with this prototype are reported.

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