Quadrotor drones can perform all sorts of tasks from monitoring air quality to performing surveillance. The catch is that the limited battery life means that they can only perform their assigned tasks for short periods of flying. Researchers from Stanford University have developed a quadrotor drone aircraft that is able to extend its useful life by saving its batteries with the ability to perch like a bird in a place where it can still perform its assignment and save battery power.
The robot is called SCAMP and while it is a flying quadrotor, it has the ability to climb walls to allow it to reposition itself so that it can perch in an ideal location for security and to perform its job. The bot is designed to operate in unstructured outdoor environments. SCAMP stands for Stanford Climbing and Aerial Maneuvering Platform.
This is the first robot able to fly, climb, and perch with the ability to do the climbing and perching and then take off again. The climbing aspect of the robot is thanks to microspines made of hardened steel barbs on suspensions and directional adhesive based on gecko feet. The bot has servos for making long steps up a wall and smaller servos for motion towards and away from the wall.
The climbing mechanism is on top of the quadrotor allowing the rotors to press the robot to the wall. When perching on the wall, SCAMP flies toward the wall until impact is sensed by the onboard accelerometers. When that impact is sensed, the rotor thrust is turned to maximum in manner that all but guarantees the climbing gear ends up pressed against the wall. The rotors then turn off when the microspines engage allowing climbing to begin. The bot can recognize when it starts to fall and the rotors turn back on to press the bot against the wall, stopping the fall and then climbing starts again.