Scientists have developed small flying robots that can carry objects up to 40 times their weight and even open closed doors, making them useful for search and rescue operations. Micro-vehicles, called FlyCroTugs, can be anchored on various surfaces using stickers inspired by geckos and insect feet.
With these connection mechanisms, FlyCroTugs can capture objects up to 40 times the weight, such as doorknobs in a scenario, or cameras and water bottles in case of rescue.
"The combination of the aerodynamic forces of our aerial vehicle and the interaction forces generated with the fixation mechanisms resulted in something very mobile, very powerful and very micro"
said student Matthew Estrada. graduated from Stanford University in the United States.
The researchers explain that the small size of FlyCroTugs allows them to navigate in confined spaces and close enough to people, which makes them useful for search and rescue.
"Wasps can fly quickly to a piece of food, and if it's too heavy to take off they drag it to the ground, so it's kind of an inspiration to our approach"
said Mark Cutkosky. of Stanford University.
They also followed the example of the wasp, proposing different mounting options depending on where the FlyCroTugs landed. For smooth surfaces, robots use gecko forceps, non-adhesive adhesives that mimic the complex structures of the gecko's toes and hold together, creating intermolecular forces between the adhesive and the surface.
For rough surfaces, these robots are equipped with 32 microspins, a series of hook-shaped metal spikes that can be individually locked in small recesses on one surface.
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