Drones are everywhere these days. When they're not titillating hobbyists or dropping bombs, they're delivering beer, deploying floatation devices to drowning victims and keeping poachers at bay.
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Say what you will about the morality and usefulness of these applications, but they all involve either dropping mechanisms or surveillance. However, the new helicopter drone that engineers and roboticists at the German Aerospace Center have created seeks to reach out and grab you.
By fixing a robotic arm to the bottom of an aerial drone, developers have increased its function, giving it the capability to manipulate objects that may be difficult or out of reach for humans. The German Aerospace Center plans to eventually build a fleet of these arm-equipped drones to take on high-risk construction and repair jobs.
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So far, the biggest challenge has been getting the drones to stay stable during flights, since every movement of the arm throws off the chopper's center of gravity. But the project is still in its early stages, and once all the kinks are worked out, don't be surprised if you see your friendly neighborhood drones cleaning gutters and rescuing cats out of trees.
Credit: IEEE Spectrum