A charging solution for delivery drones: Take after our feathered friends?
Amazon’s plan to unleash a wave of "delivery drones" has occasionally been criticized as a pie-in-the-sky idea (literally, if they start shipping baked goods).
One limitation is that Amazon's devices currently only store enough energy to fly within 10 miles of a fulfillment center. But CSAIL researchers say that they have a solution — and it's thanks to pigeons.
In a new paper, CSAIL researchers developed a lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can perch on a power line like a bird. This opens up the possibility for UAVs to recharge their batteries using the magnetic fields emitted by power lines.
The CSAIL team’s single-motor glider has a complex control system that automatically directs it to slow down, tip its wings, and hook onto a line, even in moderate wind conditions. Where past versions required wall-mounted cameras and a separate computer, CSAIL’s latest iteration has on-board sensors and electronics that can plan and execute moves in real-time.