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The last few years have seen fixed-wing drones manage all sorts of difficult operations. A new development is seeking to enable drones to take off and land vertically. The drone, developed by a team from Sherbrooke University, Canada, is called S-MAD (Sherbrooke’s Multimodal Autonomous Drone) and was presented by the researchers recently. They explained their inspiration from birds’ ability to adjust their flight path with a last-minute upward thrust as they close in on perching locations.

According to, the drone flies horizontally towards the oncoming wall at a speed of 7 to 9 meters per second. A laser sensor then detects the wall and feedback control slows the aircraft down to 1 to 3 meters per second, as it tilts the drone upwards. Thrust increases meanwhile to hold its vertical position as it closes in on the wall. Microfiber feet then latch onto the wall and suspension absorbs the kinetic energy from the impact as the propellor is switched off. The team says the feet will engage any rough surfaces, including bricks and concrete. With the drone settled on the wall, it can apparently remain there until it is time to take off again, at which point it fires up the propellor and leaves.

The team hopes that these types of drones could be used to carry out extended missions, stopping to take a break and saving energy in places regular drones could not. For this reason, they could find use in long-term surveillance operations, but with the ability to perch on vertical surfaces they could also conduct building inspections or be deployed in disaster zones, for example.