Digital and Connected Factory
Automation, robotics and cobotics
French startup Aerial Coboticus aims to fly industrial-grade robotic tools affixed to a king-sized remotely controlled drone. Created in May 2015, the startup has patented the concept and is in early stages of R&D.
With this level of precision,the co-founders are confident the tool-wielding flying platform will be able to carry out complex tasks in difficult-to-access places, at a fraction of the cost of installing scaffolds. This could be welding, laser surface cleaning or any other routine repair or maintenance work for which costly and obtrusive scaffolds are typically required today. Instead, only temporary safety markings may be required at ground level for the duration of the remote operation.
Engineers could operate at a safe distance, controlling the robot arm via video feed and haptic force feedback while the drone itself would hover in quasi autonomous mode.
The startup has partnered with industrial robots manufacturer Kuka which offers 7-axis robotic arms with force feedback. As for all industrial robots, given a fixed base position, the robot arm can derive the exact tool-tip position from the sensor data collected from its joints. Force feedback typically relies on torque sensors also implemented at the joints’ motors. But achieving sub-centimetre accuracy at the tool tip when the robot base is on-board a moving drone is less obvious.