A research team from the Imperial College’s Aerial Robotics Laboratory has created the SpiderMAV drone, which is capable of firing magnetic stabilization strings, in a very Spider-Man-like way.
Using compressed air the drone fires out magnetically tipped strings which then cling to a magnetic surface. The drone can fire a number of these strings; three from its sideways firing stabilization gun and one from its vertical perching gun, the purpose being that the drone can then ensure its own stability, in windy conditions, for example. But the strings mean that the drone is also able to reduce the drain on its power while hovering, or it can completely shut off its engines and prolong its mission even further.
In theory, this will allow drones to extend surveillance missions, give them the ability to remain more stable or out for longer during rescue support missions; like after recent hurricane events, or it can facilitate more stable footage from the drone.
Many companies are pursuing drones that have an ability to use some form of string-based feature, for instance, the DelivAir system being developed by Cambridge Consultants is able to lower goods down to customers on its string-winch system, which also appears to use a magnetic attachment.
Currently, the modified DJI Matrice from Imperial College is very much a prototype, as the drone is unable to detach itself once it has fired its stabilization webs. As such, the drone will need to develop the ability to disengage its web, a capability expected to arrive next year, before most people would consider it a viable product to purchase.