Roofing drone nails down shingles

September 23, 2019
The roofing octocopter, equipped with a nail gun, is parked near the mock roof. By setting the wooden panel at different inclines, the researchers simulated roofs with different slopes. Image credit: Matthew Romano, Michigan Robotics.

An octocopter capable of attaching asphalt shingles to roofs with a nail gun has been demonstrated at the University of Michigan’s M-Air, an outdoor autonomous system testing lab.

This aerial vehicle can position the nail gun, place the nail, and move to the next point without needing a human at the controls.

“For me, the biggest excitement of this work is in recognizing that autonomous, useful, physical interaction and construction tasks are possible with drones,” said Ella Atkins, a professor of aerospace engineering and robotics.

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Virtual reality job trials for collaborative robots

October 11, 2018
construction worker reads plans
A construction worker reads plans for the GG Brown Addition on North Campus. Photo: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering

Robots seem a perfect match for many of the exacting, tedious, and repetitive jobs that occur on a construction site, and they can free up human workers to take on more complex tasks. However, introducing robots capable of nailing drywall or laying loads of brick can introduce unfamiliar dangers to a worksite already full of hazards from heavy machinery, power tools, and cranes dangling steel beams.

To ensure humans feel safe working with and around new robots, researchers at the University of Michigan developed and tested a social theory using a platform that is able to prototype robots in an immersive virtual reality.

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