Journal article Open Access

A 79.7g Manipulator Prototype for E-Flap Robot: A Plucking-Leaf Application

Nekoo, Saeed Rafee; Feliu-Talegon, Daniel; Acosta, Jose Angel; Ollero, Anibal

The manipulation capabilities of flapping-wing flying robots (FWFRs) is a problem barely studied. This is a direct consequence of the load-carrying capacity limitation of the flapping-wing robots. Ornithopters will improve the existent multirotor unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) since they could perform longer missions and offer a safe interaction in proximity to humans. This technology also opens the possibility to perch in some trees and perform tasks such as obtaining samples from nature, enabling biologists to collect samples in remote places, or assisting people in rescue missions by carrying medicines or first-aid kits. This paper presents a very lightweight manipulator (79.7g) prototype to be mounted on an ornithopter. The distribution of the mass on the flapping-wing robot is sensitive and an extra lumped mass far from the center-of-mass (CoM) of the robot deteriorates the flight stability. A configuration was proposed to avoid changing the CoM. Flight experiments show that adding the arm to the robot only moved the CoM 6mm and the performance of the flight with the manipulator has been satisfactory. Plucking leaf is chosen as an application to the designed system and several experimental tests confirmed successful sampling of leaves by the prototype.

This work was supported in part by the European Project GRIFFIN European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant 2017 (Action 788247); and in part by the Plan Andaluz de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación (PAIDI) 2020 through the Project HOMing Pigeon bOT (HOMPOT) under Grant PY20_00597.
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