Flying Spiderbots to the Rescue

 

Oct 25, 2017

I’m as big a comic book geek as they come, but I’ve never been a huge Spiderman fan because I’ve always felt the coolest power would be to fly. Well, it’s almost as if researchers at Imperial College London were trying to fix this dilemma when they rolled out the SpiderbotMAV.

Although it operates much like a typical drone, four tubes allow for shooting web-like anchors that can attach to solid surfaces. The team sees primary applications in helping to survey extreme environments or assist workers in severe working conditions, such as in mines.

Obviously, the most unique feature of the SpiderbotMAV is its ability to shoot a “web” of sorts to provide anchoring for stability in capturing clearer images or carrying objects. Driving these innovations are new mechatronics solutions and control systems that help the drone navigate and release its silky string material as accurately as possible.

The next step for researchers will be refining the material to realize added strength and adhesion.

Nature’s influence on the design of new drones hasn’t ended with the SpiderbotMAV, however. Researchers at this same lab have also unveiled the AquaMAV, which shares a number of features with flying fish and diving birds.

Mimicking their movements with compressed gas that ejects water from the body of the drone, the AquaMAV can dive under the water before returning to base. Applications could include search and rescue activities as well as gathering samples from polluted bodies of water.