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Avian-inspired passive landing mechanisms for perching rotorcraft
Autonomous and teleoperated flying robots capable of perch-and-stare are desirable for reconnaissance missions. Current solutions for perch-and-stare applications utilize various methods to enable aircraft to land on a limited set of surfaces that are typically horizontal or vertical planes. Motivated by the fact that songbirds are able to sleep in trees, without requiring active muscle control to stay perched, the research presented here details a concept that allows for passive perching of rotorcraft on a variety of surfaces. This thesis presents two prototype iterations, where perching is accomplished through the integration of two components: a compliant, underactuated gripping foot and a collapsing leg mechanism that converts aircraft weight into tendon tension in order to passively actuate the foot. This thesis presents the design process and analysis of the mechanisms. Additionally, stability tests were performed on the second prototype, attached to a quadrotor, that detail the versatility of the system and ability of the system to support external moments. The results show promise that it is possible to passively perch a rotorcraft on multiple surfaces and support reasonable environmental disturbances.