Journal article Open Access

A lightweight beak-like sensing system for grasping tasks of flapping aerial robots

Daniel Feliu-Talegón; José Ángel Acosta; Vicente Feliu-Batlle; Anibal Ollero

Many sensor systems in robotics are bio-inspired by similar mechanisms in living creatures. Birds frequently use their beaks to grasp and manipulate objects. This work proposes a very lightweight sensor system that emulates a bird's beak, thus allowing flapping aerial robots to interact with the environment, as e.g. to perform grasping or manipulation tasks. The sensor system is composed of a flexible link (beam) actuated by a micro servomotor, two strain gauges placed on different points and a rigid link opposed. Additionally, a new algorithm is also developed that estimates the instant at which the beak impacts with an object, the contact position and the exerted force. Our sensor system outperforms the existing designs in robotics applications, because it is lightweight, small, cheap, with very low computational load and without any complementary perception. It is demonstrated that the adequate placement of two strain gauges allow the estimation of the contact point and the force exerted between the beam and an object, and the accuracy achieved is enough to reckon properties of the object and develop force control systems. The validation has been made and reported through finite-element simulations and experiments, and the results illustrate the efficiency of the prototype and the proposed algorithm.

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