This paper presents the design and development of a winged aerial robot with bimanual manipulation capabilities, motivated by the current limitations of aerial manipulators based on multirotor platforms in terms of safety and range/endurance. Since the combination of gliding and flapping wings is more energy efficient in forward flight, we propose a new morphology that exploits this feature and allows the realization of dexterous manipulation tasks once the aerial robot has landed or perched. The paper describes the design, development, and aerodynamic analysis of this winged aerial manipulation robot (WAMR), consisting of a small-scale dual arm used for manipulating and as a morphing wing. The arms, fuselage, and tail are covered by a nylon cloth that acts as a cap, similar to a kite. The three joints of the arms (shoulder yaw and pitch, elbow pitch) can be used to control the surface area and orientation and thus the aerodynamic wrenches induced over the cloth. The proposed concept design is extended to a flapping-wing aerial robot built with smart servo actuators and a similar frame structure, allowing the generation of different flapping patterns exploiting the embedded servo controller. Experimental and simulation results carried out with these two prototypes evaluate the manipulation capability and the possibility of gliding and flying.
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