In this paper, an image based visual servo (IBVS) scheme is developed for a hexacopter, equipped with a robotic soft grasper to perform autonomous object detection and grasping. The structural design of the hexacopter-soft grasper system is analyzed to study the soft grasper’s influence on the multirotor’s aerodynamics. The object detection, tracking and trajectory planning are implemented on a high-level computer which sends position and velocity setpoints to the flight controller. A soft robotic grasper is mounted on the UAV to enable the collection of various contaminants. The use of soft robotics removes excess weight associated with traditional rigid graspers, as well as simplifies the controls of the grasping mechanics. Collected experimental results demonstrate autonomous object detection, tracking and grasping. This pipeline would enable the system to autonomously collect solid and liquid contaminants in water canal based on GPS and multi-camera system. It can also be used for more complex aerial manipulation including in-flight grasping.

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