UAVs to Get a Helpful HandCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 13, 2012 06:27PM
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have a myriad of uses despite also being relatively cheap to build and operate. Their best known use at the moment is in military operations, but UAVs could also be put to work in agriculture as a means to quickly survey large farms. Now researchers at Drexel University have received a grant to increase the potential of UAVs beyond surveillance by giving them arms and hands.
The $649,999 grant from the National Science Foundation is to create a system that will allow a UAV to directly interact with the objects around it. It will not be as simple as attaching a pair of pre-existing arms though because the stability of the aircraft cannot be compromised by them. To collect data on what that will require, the researchers have attached a set of arms to a gantry system that mimics the movements of a UAV.
While this is definitely a challenging task for the researchers, it could greatly increase the potential of the UAVs to include infrastructure repair and disaster recovery. Returning to the farm though, potentially the same UAV that scans the crops could also collect a sample of them or otherwise help with the harvest. Only time will tell what will be possible.