No, you haven’t clicked on an article previewing the latest episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror. This unlikely drone-with-hands creation is the work of Federico Ciccarese, the brains behind YouBionic, a bionic hand project that has evolved far beyond its original remit of offering a pair of 3D-printable robot hands.
Since we first covered it in 2014, Ciccarese has developed the project to not only make the bionic hands more complicated, but also to create numerous strange variations of the project. These have included a robot third arm and, most recently, a centaur robot which put bionic hands and an upper body on Boston Dynamics’ Spot quadruped robot. A flying quadcopter with hands may seem pretty outlandish, but Ciccarese thinks it really could be a glimpse at the future of drones.
“Companies like Amazon [will soon use] flying or ground drones to deliver packages,” he told Digital Trends. “Imagine also using drones like this to deliver first-aid material in environments that are impossible to access, like just after an avalanche of snow [or following] earthquakes.”
Ciccarese’s current prototype affixes his bionic hands to a Parrot AR drone. He says that he is developing a subsequent version with lighter hands, “and a software interface optimized for motion control.”
Right now, this looks more like a fun concept than anything approaching a finished, commercial model. However, it’s still an interesting concept and one which may not be quite as ridiculous as it initially appears. While most of the delivery robots used right now are ones like the wheeled container bots created by companies like Starship Technologies, others are starting to experiment with more humanoid creations which could potentially carry out fine manipulation tasks requiring hands. As Digital Trends has detailed before, there have been big advances in the field of robotic hands in recent years, and it might not be too far-fetched to imagine a drone that’s able to use hands to carry objects or conduct repairs.
At present, Ciccarese isn’t selling his drone-with-hands. But if you fancy building your own, visit his online story where you can buy his “Handy” robotic hand. After that, all you’ll need is Arduino nano servomotors, a drone, a couple more components, and, presumably, someone to creep out with the finished product!
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