Bioinspired design of a landing system with soft shock absorbers for autonomous aerial robots

Ketao Zhang, Pisak Chermprayong, Dimos Tzoumanikas, Wenbin Li, Marius Grimm, Mariusz Smentoch, Stefan Leutenegger, Mirko Kovac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (SciVal)
162 Downloads (Pure)


One of the main challenges for autonomous aerial robots is to land safely on a target position on varied surface structures in real‐world applications. Most of current aerial robots (especially multirotors) use only rigid landing gears, which limit the adaptability to environments and can cause damage to the sensitive cameras and other electronics onboard. This paper presents a bioinpsired landing system for autonomous aerial robots, built on the inspire–abstract–implement design paradigm and an additive manufacturing process for soft thermoplastic materials. This novel landing system consists of 3D printable Sarrus shock absorbers and soft landing pads which are integrated with an one‐degree‐of‐freedom actuation mechanism. Both designs of the Sarrus shock absorber and the soft landing pad are analyzed via finite element analysis, and are characterized with dynamic mechanical measurements. The landing system with 3D printed soft components is characterized by completing landing tests on flat, convex, and concave steel structures and grassy field in a total of 60 times at different speeds between 1 and 2 m/s. The adaptability and shock absorption capacity of the proposed landing system is then evaluated and benchmarked against rigid legs. It reveals that the system is able to adapt to varied surface structures and reduce impact force by 540N at maximum. The bioinspired landing strategy presented in this paper opens a promising avenue in Aerial Biorobotics, where a cross‐disciplinary approach in vehicle control and navigation is combined with soft technologies, enabled with adaptive morphology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-251
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Field Robotics
Issue number1
Early online date31 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2018


  • aerial robotics
  • bioinspired methods
  • control
  • mechanisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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