Robots that Land and Cling on Vertical Surfaces

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Vision for Perching UAV

A flock of small, unmanned air vehicles flies quietly into a city, maneuvering among the buildings. They communicate as they search for places to land, not on streets or flat rooftops but on the sides of buildings and under the eaves, where they can cling, bat or insect-like, in safety and obscurity. Upon identifying landing sites, each flier turns toward a wall, executes an intentional stall and, as it begins to fall, attaches itself using feet equipped with miniature spines that engage small asperities on the surface. Using its propeller in combination with its limbs, the flier can creep along the wall and reorient for a better view. With opposed pairs of spines, the flier clings tenaciously to resist gusts of wind and ride out inclement weather. The fliers stay attached for hours or days, consuming little power and emitting no sound as they monitor the area. When finished, they launch themselves with a jump and become airborne again, ready for their next mission. (from Perching Whitepaper)


(from PerchingPublications)

Alexis Lussier Desbiens, Alan T. Asbeck and Mark R. Cutkosky, "Landing, Perching and Taking Off from Vertical Surfaces," published online before print, International Journal of Robotics Research, Jan. 2011.

Alexis Lussier Desbiens, Alan Asbeck and Mark R. Cutkosky, "Hybrid Aerial and Scansorial Robotics", ICRA, May 2010, Anchorage, Alaska (preprint).

Alexis Lussier Desbiens, Alan Asbeck and Mark R. Cutkosky, "Scansorial Landing and Perching", Proc. 14th International Symposium on Robotics Research, September 2009, Lucerne, Switzerland.

Alexis Lussier Desbiens and Mark Cutkosky, "Landing and Perching on Vertical Surfaces with Microspines for Small Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs)," presented at UAV'09, June 8-10, Reno, NV and included in Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems, Vol. 57, No. 1-4, p. 313-327 DOI: 10.1007/s10846-009-9377-z

Alexis Lussier-Desbiens and Mark Cutkosky, October 2008 whitepaper on our perching approach for small airplanes.

Sometimes the best place to land is on a wall...


ICRA_2010: Video overview of the perching project made for ICRA 2010, including both landings and takeoffs

MVI_0862.AVI: a 1st rough take-off in Stanford Quad

Thrown glider landing and perching Filmed Dec. 2008, Edited June 2009 for UAV'09 (89MB Quicktime)

  • Foam core glider is thrown at a rough concrete wall. Ultrasonic sensor initiates pitch-up maneuver at ~5m distance. Landing occurs while velocity is partly forward and partly vertical, between 1-3 m/s. Success was achieved for 30/40 throws, albeit under fairly calm conditions. For engaging and gripping the surface, we use a nonlinear suspension and a special adaptation of spiny toes from Spinybot


We are basing our control on the Paparazzi open-source controller. Thus far we have achieved stable hovering with our small acrobatic plane. The next step is controlled lift-off after perching...
Hovering in the lab with Alexis

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