Researchers at the University of Stanford have developed small drones that can anchor onto surfaces and pull heavy loads.
The modified small flying robots, called FlyCroTugs, use powerful winches, gecko adhesives and micro-spines with their work.
They have been fitted with advanced gripping technologies meaning two FlyCroTugs can work together and jointly lasso the door handle and heave the door open.
The developments were made in the labs of Mark Cutkosky, the fletcher jones chair in the School of Engineering at Stanford University, and Dario Floreano at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.
Matthew Estrada, a graduate at Stanford and the lead author of a paper on the FlyCroTugs, commented on what they have achieved, he said: “When you’re a small robot, the world is full of large obstacles. Combining the aerodynamic forces of our aerial vehicle along with interaction forces that we generate with the attachment mechanisms resulted in something that was very mobile, very forceful and micro as well.”
The researchers say the FlyCroTugs’ small size means they can navigate through snug spaces and fairly close to people, making them useful for search and rescue.
Watch Stanford University’s video which shows the drones in action here: