Spiral Zipper Manipulator for Aerial Grasping and Manipulation

We present a novel manipulator for aerial vehicles to perform grasping and manipulation tasks. The goal is to design a low-cost, relatively light but strong manipulator with a large workspace and compact storage space that can be mounted on an unmanned aerial system. A novel design solution based on the Spiral Zipper, an expanding tube, combined with tether actuators is presented. A model of the system is introduced and the control method and pose estimator are developed and tested with some experiments showing the reliable performance of the overall system. An experiment with a self-sealing suction cup gripper demonstrates manipulation while mounted on the aerial vehicle frame.


  • [PDF] [DOI] C. C. Kessens, M. Horowitz, C. Liu, J. Dotterweich, M. Yim, and H. L. Edge, “Toward lateral aerial grasping & manipulation using scalable suction,” in 2019 international conference on robotics and automation (icra), 2019, pp. 4181-4186.
    title={Toward Lateral Aerial Grasping & Manipulation Using Scalable Suction},
    author={Kessens, Chad C. and Horowitz, Matthew and Liu, Chao and Dotterweich, James and Yim, Mark and Edge, Harris L.},
    booktitle={2019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)},
  • [PDF] [DOI] C. Liu, A. Bera, T. Tsabedze, D. Edgar, and M. Yim, “Spiral zipper manipulator for aerial grasping and manipulation,” in 2019 ieee/rsj international conference on intelligent robots and systems (iros), Macau, China, 2019, pp. 3179-3184.
    title={Spiral Zipper Manipulator for Aerial Grasping and Manipulation},
    author={Liu, Chao and Bera, Abhraneel and Tsabedze, Thulani and Edgar, Daniel and Yim, Mark},
    booktitle={2019 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)},
    address = {Macau, China},
    year = {2019},