17 Sep 2014 More

What's Next, Flying Robots?

posted by Brown Books @ 07:50 0 Comments Links to this post

That's right. First we brought you robots that run and do somersaults. Then we brought you a guitar that flies. Now, it seems the logical next step is a robot that can fly. This is not science fiction; this is the real deal.

The ARCAS project (Aerial Robotics Cooperative Assembly System) announced it has created new machine that not only flies, it is a working robot at the same time. Designed to go into areas where humans should not (like contaminated or hostile areas), the new robot can fly into these type places then perform a multitude of tasks such as disassembling machinery, inspection, even rescue missions.

"The idea is that the robots should be able to fly in anywhere where it is impossible or impractical for piloted aircraft or ground robots to operate," says ARCAS project manager Professor AnĂ­bal Ollero. "We have helicopters, and multi-rotor systems with eight rotors to give more hovering control, increase the payload and carry arms with greater degrees of freedom."

As many as 10 prototypes have been tested and demonstrated already in Spain at the Advanced Aerospace Technologies Center in Seville, also known as CATEC. Even larger demonstrations have been put on in an outdoor setting in Germany. The demonstration grasping bars and moving them by air was a big success.



While flying robots are not exactly brand new (some are employed already in aerial recognizance), none have the complex capabilities of ARCAS. ARCAS has multiple arms to perform more complicated tasks and even uses 3D maps for guidance.

"The robots work very well," says Professor Ollero. "We still need to improve accuracy and repetitiveness in different conditions, but the results are very promising. We have demonstrated aerial manipulation with six- and seven-joint arms and perception and planning functionalities, and this is a first worldwide."

Practical applications in engineering and oil & gas

As soon as ARACS passes local, state, and federal safety tests, it can be put into action not just in extreme situations but in everyday use as well. First applications will most likely be for maintenance and inspection, such as oil & gas pipelines and electrical grids.

The ARACS can be deployed to carry key elements to antennae stations when they are located between buildings or high up in the mountains. It could even be used to help rescue people from fires. This could in the near future save the lives of rescue professionals.


In the not-too-distant future, the flying robot could be used to help fix and dismantle satellites. Imagine, a tiny robot no larger than a bird going into outer space to do the same job it used to take a whole team and a space shuttle to do.

The ARCAS project (Aerial Robotics Cooperative Assembly System), involves eight partners from five countries. The project began in 2011 and is scheduled to come to completion in November 2015.

For more information, you can check out their website at www.arcas-project.eu

by Philip Loyd, Brown Editor

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