Researchers at the Imperial College London’s Aerial Robotics Laboratory have created the SpiderMAV – a robot that stabilizes itself by shooting out multiple strands of rope that can stick to magnetic surfaces. The drone, which is a standard quadcopter, has a built-in rope gun that blasts out little connectors. The drone then pulls against the ropes, stabilizing itself in flight.
The system can help keep a drone in place even in heavy winds as simulated by fan crosswinds. This is just a proof of concept so the magnets don’t have variable strength nor are the cables particularly resilient. However, you could imagine this sort of system being used to manage communications in a time of crisis or maintain surveillance in heavy weather. The researchers presented their findings in Vancouver. Their paper is called “SpiderMAV: Perching and Stabilizing Micro Aerial Vehicles with Bio-inspired Tensile Anchoring Systems,” by K. Zhang, P. Chermprayong, T. M. Alhinai, R. Siddall, and M. Kovac from Imperial College London.