It sounds like a giant, monster wasp from a horror movie. But this new flying robot – a joint project between EPFL and Carnegie Mellon University in the United States – could one day be used in search and rescue missions.
And the Airburr V11 is, indeed, meant to replicate flying insects.
According to the device’s co-designer, Adrien Briod, “Unlike a robot, insects were able to quickly recover in the air and continue their mission, continue flying. It was actually part of their everyday life colliding into things…That’s what led to this robot that’s able to collide into things without breaking and it’s even able to recover after a fall to the ground, so that it can fly again.”
So how can the device bump into objects and keep on flying? It’s all thanks to the robot’s design. In short, its propellers are kept safely inside its core, while motion sensors provide stability during flight. Eight equidistant bumpers take the strain of inevitable crashes.
As Briod adds, “Sometimes we can avoid obstacles, thanks to our on-board sensors, but sometimes we cannot and that’s fine. We even use the information we get from collisions to navigate and learn from collisions to decide where to go next.”
Another feature that makes this robot special is its ability to perch on walls to conduct surveillance.
Airburr’s other co-designer, Ludovic Daler, explains that “we can use the sensor to align the robot in the correct position towards the wall… when the robot’s flying the pad stays inside the robot and when we detect a wall that is on the good side of the robot, we can deploy this adhesive pad and attach to the wall.”
If only they can put a lid on that terrifying sound it makes, then they’ll be solid.