GRASP lab demonstrates quadrotors (w/ Video)

July 16, 2010 by Lin Edwards, report
GRASP lab demonstrates quadrotors (w/ Video)
Control of multiple quadrotor robots to cooperatively transport a payload. A gripping mechanism attached to each quadrotor permits grasping of the payload. Work done at GRASP Lab, University of Pennsylvania.

( -- Quadrotors, robotic vehicles resembling tiny helicopters, have been demonstrated by a group of scientists in the US. The quadrotors were shown carrying out impressive maneuvers and lifting payloads both singly and in groups working together.

A quadrotor (also called a quadrocopter) is a vehicle lifted and flown by means of four rotors. The quadrotor is maneuvered by adjusting the relative speed of each of the four rotors. Unlike standard , the blades on quadrotors are fixed pitch.

The unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs) were developed by , mechanical engineering and students at the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, , Sensing and Perception (GRASP) laboratory. Each tiny vehicle has a claw-like grip it can use to pick up an object weighing around 0.5 kg, but the vehicles can work in groups to pick up heavier payloads.

The Quadrotors are highly maneuverable, and can flip multiple times and fly through windows or between other quadrotors, with only a few centimeters’ clearance on each side. When fitted with Velcro under the vehicle and on a surface, the quadrotors can perch on inclined, vertical or even inverted surfaces.

The GRASP laboratory is not the only group working on miniature UAVs for lifting payloads. As PhysOrg reported in June, a group in Switzerland has demonstrated a "distributed flight array" of robotic vehicles working together to lift objects. The Swiss group’s robotic vehicles work as a multiple vehicle flight platform and only fly erratically as single units, whereas the Pennsylvania group’s vehicles function well individually.

Explore further: Self-assembling vehicles take flight (w/ Video)

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1 / 5 (2) Jul 16, 2010
The quadrocopters are very interesting.
Apart from being an entertaining toy to play with what are the envisaged applications for them?
1 / 5 (2) Jul 17, 2010
Why the hell aren't these being sold in every retail shop around the world? Its incredible!
not rated yet Jul 17, 2010
I can envision industrial applications of these working in teams on a larger scale to remove debris from an earthquake site or other catastrophe for which human exploration would be hazardous. Mind you I want to make one as a toy =)
5 / 5 (1) Jul 17, 2010
Apart from being an entertaining toy to play with what are the envisaged applications for them?

Right now we have very large transport systems that must be designed for the largest possible load - which means they will be overkill for most jobs they have to do.

Picture a fleet of these (possibly even more miniaturized) and you can see where this is heading: Transport tailored to the load by simply using the right number of n-copters (e.g. transport of logs in hard to reach areas or distribued transport of food/supplies in disaster areas... )
Mind you I want to make one as a toy

Here's a video to the hexacopter.
The link on the youtube site gets you to their webpage which has detailed instructions for making one yourself.
not rated yet Jul 17, 2010
I think the uses to which these and the hexacopter can be put will be limited only by their owner's imaginations.
Obviously the military of many nations are already developing just these sorts of tools but the really good uses I can see will be in ecological observations, search and rescue, mail and courier transport in remote regions, emergency medical supplies, mountain rescues.

I have a question though: too many of these things flying about could make terrible noise pollution. Could the rotor sound be reduced by having a circular band on each rotor connecting the tips? This sort of thing is done on kids toys to prevent damage to eyes etc. Could the same work as a noise abatement? The rotor blades all have fixed pitch so no problem with attachment of such a band.
1 / 5 (2) Jul 17, 2010
No. Blade velocity and tip speed is noise. No one has commented on duration correlating with power supply mass. I doubt lifting capacity scales linearly.

Gee whiz none the less.
not rated yet Jul 17, 2010
It's incredible how fast they can change direction and stop in midair. It's as if they1re being hanged on strings. Of course they aren't but this kind of maneuverability is incredible from a free flying object.
1 / 5 (2) Jul 17, 2010
Yeah, isnt it more inefficient for many small lifting machines compared to one large one?
not rated yet Jul 17, 2010
Why the hell aren't these being sold in every retail shop around the world? Its incredible!

Indeed. These make a mockery of every other model copter or plane I've ever seen. If UPenn mass markets they'll become the next Tickle Me Elmo.
1 / 5 (3) Jul 17, 2010
Nice, but Draganfly has been making these machines for many years, so they must have them perfected by now.

They are should i say the pioneers of these machines,
They have one that they say is available for the military, the 3 bladed one.

But their's does not work in teams, shouldn't be to hard to integrate the software for doing so though.
1 / 5 (2) Jul 17, 2010
The maneuverability of classical helicopters is comparable or even better, as they can change the tilt of rotor a much faster, then by changing of its speed. Tetracopter requires smaller and faster rotors to achieve the same maneuverability, which makes it less effective in energy consumption.


Try to imagine, how these flights above linked would appear, if they would be driven by computer, not by human!
1 / 5 (2) Jul 18, 2010
I believe that the linked video is of computer controlled devices.
not rated yet Jul 18, 2010
Quadrotors are simpler mechanically than helis - that's their strong point. And I wouldn't be so sure about their energy efficiency - there are four rotors, so each one of them may have lower rotating speed than for a heli of similar perfomance. Also there is no need to counter the torque - no associated energy loss (there is one, if I am not mistaken).
1 / 5 (1) Jul 18, 2010
..there is no need to counter the torque - no associated energy loss..
The quadrotors are compensating their torque mutually, but the corresponding energy loss should still be there.
not rated yet Jul 19, 2010
Multiple quad-rotors working together to lift heavy loads...there's a recipe for disaster.

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