Scientists give a quadrocoptor claws; what’s the worst that could happen?

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Um, run.

We’ve seen plenty of robots inspired by nature, from the human-like Asimo to the much scarier cinderblock-throwing Big Dog. Unfortunately, the latest robotic creation from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania is going to be another entry in the scary-robot category.

Imagine a swarm of quadrocopter robots that could, say, “blot out the sun.” Now, imagine if each of these miniature flying machines had their own bird-like claw. That’s right: The Penn researchers decided to give micro-UAVs a grappling arm and manipulator claw that mimics an eagle’s talons.

The scientists say that they wanted to test a micro-UAV’s ability to grab objects while in midair. The claw itself consists of a dual-jointed, 10-inch arm attached to a 3D-printed, three-fingered claw.

If you’ve ever watched an eagle grab a fish straight out of the water as it’s flying over—that’s basically the same thing this robotic claw can do. The claw can snatch up objects in as little as one millisecond and hold them securely in its grasp. The scientists also say that they want to use the drone’s bird-like appendage to make it perch from an object.

While this might seem like a really bad idea for the coming robopocalypse, we’re also excited because this sort of development could finally make taco- or burrito-delivery robots a reality.

[University of Pennsylvania (PDF) via Gizmodo]

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