Drones

DARPA test-flies an arm-equipped UAV

DARPA test-flies an arm-equipp...
The arm-equipped UAV placing its payload on the ladder target
The arm-equipped UAV placing its payload on the ladder target
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DARPA's arm-equipped V-Bat UAV
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DARPA's arm-equipped V-Bat UAV
The arm-equipped UAV placing its payload on the ladder target
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The arm-equipped UAV placing its payload on the ladder target
DARPA's arm-equipped V-Bat UAV
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DARPA's arm-equipped V-Bat UAV
The arm-equipped UAV placing its payload on the ladder target
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The arm-equipped UAV placing its payload on the ladder target
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For some time now, engineers have been researching the possibility of equipping UAVs (unmanned air vehicles) with robotic arms. This week, DARPA announced that a successful test of just such an “armed” UAV has been performed.

DARPA utilized an existing V-Bat UAV, made by California-based MLB Company. The stock V-Bat can fly horizontally to quickly reach its destination, then hover in a tail-down orientation once it gets there.

The DARPA team added a folding robotic arm to the UAV, along with an inexpensive stereoscopic computer vision system – this incorporated one camera on the end of the arm, and another on the aircraft itself.

DARPA's arm-equipped V-Bat UAV
DARPA's arm-equipped V-Bat UAV

For the test, a 1-pound (454-gram) payload was attached to a hook on the end of the arm. Using its vision and GPS systems, the V-Bat then autonomously identified a step ladder, which was the object on which it had to place its payload. It proceeded to maneuver itself up alongside the ladder, extended its arm by six feet (1.8 meters), and placed the payload on the ladder.

“Our goal with the UAV payload emplacement demonstration was to show we could quickly develop and integrate the right technology to make this work,” said DARPA program manager Dan Pratt. “The success of the demonstration further enables the capabilities of future autonomous aerial vehicles.”

A video of the test (which apparently took place last September) can be seen below.

Source: DARPA via IEEE Spectrum

Precision Emplacement of Payloads, DARPA TTO Project

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4 comments
POOL PUMPREAPAIR guy longwood
Wind and rain are not a issue looks like it would be fun to fly in the winter, does it make any noise like 4 leaf blowers ?
Stephen N Russell
Upscale to carry cargoes or mini supply modules. Search Rescue, Power Line servicing, firefighting in the wilderness.
christopher
LOL - they forgot to pre-compensate for the change in balance when the arm (or probably more likely weight of arms payload) moves :-)
Thomas Lewis
this is a great concept,but a multi engined platform may be better for control when using the arm.