Nowadays, drones are mainly used as 'eyes in the sky'. Yet, they are the only robots incapable of physical contact. While it is exactly through physical contact that we, humans, manipulate objects and the surroundings to create, and give shape, to our world. To utilise the full potential of drones, they can be provided with the sense of touch and facilitate a number of tasks for our society: from maintaining infrastructure assets at height, to helping ecologists with data gathering in vast forest areas, to exploring new terrains and environments inaccessible to humans. To achieve this, I will implement new designs of aerial robots that exploit mechanical compliance to achieve physical interaction with their surroundings. Such designs will be complemented by novel interaction control algorithms that rely on richer information on the sense of touch, so to realise safe and reliable operations in the real world. Thanks to this project, drones will be able to finally deliver a tangible impact in our society.
Degree of recognition
Netherlands Organisation for Science Research (NWO)