Land-bound robots? Been there, done that. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are taking things up a notch with a bird-style bot capable of autonomous flight. By replicating the features that enable birds to make a soft landing — including the flapping wings that help them change direction — the researchers developed the first micro aerial vehicle (MAV) capable of swooping down to perch on a human hand. The craft forgoes a vertical tail, which birds also lack, to allow for enough agility to land on a small surface. Articulated wings help the robo-bird complete the maneuver successfully, by first gliding into position and then pitching up and slowing down. Who knew perching was so complicated? Besides just providing a super-nifty party trick for these lucky researchers, the autonomous aircraft could be used in urban surveillance, where a small size would come in handy. Check out the MAV in action, along with the press release, after the break.
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