Mini-helicopter can swoop down and grab anything with its robotic handS

A new remote-controlled helicopter is the first to use a robotic hand to pick objects off the ground and safely fly away with them. Check out a video of the Yale Aerial Manipulator in action.

The helicopter can fly up to 80 miles per hour while carrying objects that weight as much as 4.5 pounds. Its inventors see a lot of potential use for the device - it could pick up bombs or packages in regions that are too steep or rough for ground-based robots to access. They could even become a form of automated courier in urban areas, moving small packages from point to point in cities where trucks would have a hard time getting around.

Its robotic hand has four fingers and runs on a single motor. The hand is made out of a material that helps to absorb shock and vibration, which helps the helicopter remain stable while hovering above the ground. Check out the video below for a demonstration of the Aerial Manipulator picking up objects off the ground.

[Original paper via Technology Review]