Modular, Self-Assembling, Reconfigurable, Open-Source, Hybrid Robotic Vehicles for Aerial Grasping and Package Delivery

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are rapidly emerging as the next-generation solution for delivering payloads. In recent years, numerous designs have been proposed, each offering distinct approaches to this challenge. Presently, existing systems tend to be cumbersome and tailored for specific applications, which hinders their flexibility for accommodating different environments or payloads. This work introduces an innovative approach to the development of a versatile and adaptable multi-drone delivery system. The system comprises autonomous mobile robots equipped with omnidirectional wheels and a coupler mechanism, enabling self-assembly so as to form rigid connections. These drones possess the ability to accommodate polygonal payloads by utilizing tethers and compliant pads, allowing them to conform to the shape of the packages they carry. The system architecture is composed of four distinct modules, consisting of one parent module and three child modules, all seamlessly interconnected through a tethering system. The parent module serves as the central hub, housing critical components such as the flight controller and a robust communication system, thereby assuming a pivotal role in overseeing and coordinating the entire fleet of modules. This paper demonstrates the full capabilities of the concept with autonomous tiled self-assembly and coordinated motion so as to grasp and fly with a package. The system is open-sourced to allow replications and further development by others.