recently demonstrated emplacing a payload on a UAV using a vision-driven robotic arm. MLB Co.
’s V-Bat UAV, which has both hover and horizontal flight capability, made the delivery of a payload using an arm designed to carry up to one pound.
The aircraft used a low-cost vision system to precisely target its goal placement position relative to its hovering in real time. While this is a simple task for people, DARPA stated in a press release that trying to do the same thing robotically from a UAV meant MLB Co. had to make new advances in technology.
“Our goal with the UAV payload emplacement demonstration was to show we could quickly develop and integrate the right technology to make this work,” says Dan Patt, DARPA program manager. “The success of the demonstration further enables the capabilities of future autonomous aerial vehicles.”
To perform the task, the V-Bat demonstrated a newly developed stereo-vision system; the control logic to maneuver the vehicle and the arm to emplace the payload; vehicle stability with the arm extended 6 feet; and autonomous search, detection and placement.