Wednesday, July 27, 2016

2016-07-27: Autonomy Incubator Intern Jacob Beck and His Marvelous Magical Spider Bot

You saw them steal the show in the Autonomy Incubator final review; now get to know them: Jacob Beck and his creation, the Spider Bot.

The basics of Jacob's design draw upon tried-and-true principles in robotics, such as the design of the leg joints and the six-legged, alternating tripod method of locomotion. However, he's creatively blending these building blocks with computer vision, autonomy and UAVs to create a novel solution for the Ai's package delivery mission.

"Once [the Spider Bot] finds the object, it will use its legs as, instead, fingers, and close around the object and winch itself back up," Jacob said.

The current approach to autonomous package pick-up depends heavily on a precise landing from the UAV, so that a fixed mechanism can grab onto the package. However, autonomous precision landing is tricky in the best research conditions and incredibly difficult in the real world— in fact, we've got an intern who's spending his summer focusing exclusively on precision landing capabilities. Jacob's idea for a mobile, autonomous robot gripper eases our reliance on precision landing by allowing the UAV some room for error when approaching a package.

"An issue we face right now is getting a drone to land precisely over the target," he explained. By using this kind of robot, we hope to greatly expand the area in which the drone can work."

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