BY MARIA TEMMING

The bot reels in its cargo while affixed to a surface, rather than flying with a load

A new type of mini drone can pull a lot more than its own weight.

The drone latches onto a surface and uses a cable to reel in objects up to 40 times its mass, researchers report. This feat is a marked improvement over other flying robots, which generally can’t tote objects heavier than about their own weight (SN: 2/7/15, p. 18).

The new palm-sized flyer, described October 24 in Science Robotics, could work in factories or help with exploration and search-and-rescue missions.

Each 100-gram quadcopter is equipped with either gecko-inspired adhesive or microspines, which resemble tiny fishhooks, that help it cling to various surfaces (SN Online: 6/28/17). After attaching a cable to an object, the drone flies to its destination, anchors itself to its landing spot and uses a mechanical winch to pull in its cargo.

This sequence of events allows the drone to transport objects that would be too heavy to carry while flying.

Read More: Science News