Drones Traversing Vegetation - New Article published in Nature Communications


In this work, we make drones capable of traversing compliant vegetation.

Despite vegetation is generally regarded as an obstacle to avoid, drones could traverse it to access unreachable areas. Did you know that animals traverse vegetation by direct physical interaction using their entire body to push aside and slide along compliant obstacles?

At the Environmental Robotics Lab, we took inspiration from their interaction strategies to demonstrate how the interplay between body morphology and haptic-​based control enables drones to overcome compliant obstacles with unknown elastic response. Our core strategy combines a streamlined, low-​friction shell, which facilitates the drone's ability to slide over and interact with obstacles across its entire body, and a feedback-​modulated controller that utilizes force feedback to dampen environmental oscillations and ensure the robot's safety without knowledge of the obstacle's stiffness.

We are excited to share that our research project has been published in Nature Communications. Enabling drone flights through cluttered vegetation will open to new potential applications in environmental monitoring, search and rescue, and precision agriculture.

Big congrats to our PhD students Emanuele Aucone and Christian Geckeler. We thank our former master student Daniele Morra for laying the foundation for the simulation and control framework, and Professor Lucia Pallottino for the collaboration.

Source: https://erl.ethz.ch/news-and-events/erl-news/2024/04/drones-traversing-vegetation-new-article-published-in-nature-communications.html