The ability to maneuver micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) precisely relative to specific targets and to interact with the environment (i.e., aerial manipulation) could benefit society by assisting with dangerous jobs, providing useful information, and improving the efficiency of many tasks. For example, precise relative positioning would allow for close inspections of bridges, cell towers, rooftops, or water towers. Aerial manipulation could improve or enable precision farming, construction, repairing structures, transportation of objects, automated recharging or battery replacement, environmental sampling, or perching to turn off motors and reduce power consumption.
Purchase SPIE Field Guide to IR Systems, Detectors and FPAsThe prevalence of commercially available MAVs has risen rapidly, but platforms are currently limited to sensing and data collection tasks. Indeed, many manufacturers are producing aerial robots equipped with cameras. However, none are able to physically interact with objects. Thus, there is a need for solutions empowering aerial robots to closely track, grasp, perch on, and manipulate specific objects of interest. Here, we present an overview of current approaches and challenges for vision-based perching and aerial manipulation. A more extensive discussion is available elsewhere.