The grippy feet and strong threads let the drone pull objects many times it’s weight.
Inspired by wasps and spiders that need to drag prey from place to place, but can’t actually lift it, engineers at Stanford and Switzerland’s EPFL have created drones that brace themselves against the ground to get the requisite torque. The grippy feet and strong threads or jaws let them pull objects many times their weight along the ground. These FlyCroTugs (a combination of flying, micro and tug, presumably) act like ordinary tiny drones while in the air, able to move freely about and land wherever they need to. But they’re equipped with three critical components: an anchor to attach to objects, a winch to pull on that anchor and sticky feet to provide sure grip while doing so. The engineers claim that the drones are capable of moving objects 40 times their weight.
Commenting on the drone’s capability, co-author of the paper Dario Floreano said in a news release, “People tend to think of drones as machines that fly and observe the world. But flying insects do many other things, such as walking, climbing, grasping and building. Social insects can even work together and combine their strength.”