Earthbound Robots Today Need to Take Flight

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

A lightweight flying platform with a robotic arm combines the strengths of two rapidly developing, parallel industries. Considering how rapidly both lightweight robotic arms and drones are maturing, there are reasons to suspect 10.6 billion is a conservative estimate, especially as the concept of a dexterous drone gains popularity and more companies decide to pursue this technology. NASA's Assistive Free-Flyer (AFF) is a lightweight flying robotic arm that maneuvers, manipulates, and perches in microgravity for ISS applications like maintenance, human assistance, and remote operation of scientific experiments. But there's nothing inherent to the AFF that requires space or microgravity to develop new versatile manipulating platforms.