Aerial Manipulators for Contact-based Interaction

  • Salua Hamaza

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


In this thesis, new methods are proposed to tackle contact-based manipulation conducted by flying robots. The exertion of force and physical interaction are challenging tasks when performed on an aerial vehicle. The research community in aerial robotics started to approach such challenges in the past decade, with the use of interaction controllers tailored at aerial manipulators. Force exchange by an aerial vehicle was only tackled in more recent years however, as the state of the art progressed and reached higher maturity. The work hereby presented addresses some of the challenges of contact-based aerial interaction and proposes a novel approach to force generation by exploiting the aerial system as a whole, combining the action from the manipulator together with motion of the aircraft. A bespoke manipulation system featuring compliance is created to tackle force-driven tasks where the ability to adjust the force output, shape the load curve and tune the time in contact according to the task specifications is demonstrated throughout multiple experiments. Optimisation is carried out at both the design and control level, to further expand on the range of applications that can be accomplished with the compact, lightweight and compliant design. This, together with novel control strategies for aerial interaction allow to perform new aerial tasks, such as pushing against and tapping on a surface, install and retrieve sensors on vertical and cylindrical surfaces, and aerial contour following. Overall the proposed approach demonstrates accuracy, robustness and reliability to tackle contact-based aerial operations in multiple scenarios.
Date of Award28 Nov 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorTom S Richardson (Supervisor) & Ioannis Georgilas (Supervisor)

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