We don’t see many drones with robotic hands, and there is a good reason for that: drones can only carry so much weight, and robot grippers tend to be fairly heavy. Even if the drone can handle the weight of the gripper itself, it likely won’t be able to grab and carry anything substantial. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, particularly if you’re more interested in an experiment than a practical tool. If so, Youbionic has released a design to add two of their “Handy” robotic hands to a drone frame.
Youbionic has made a bit of a name for themselves by designing robotic prosthetics and augmentations. Back in 2017, we featured their novel Double Hand robotic augmentation that turns one working hand into two. Now they’re back with a new design called Drone for Handy that adds a pair of bionic hands to an otherwise conventional quadcopter frame. Both the drone frame and the hands themselves are almost completely 3D-printed, so you can make the parts yourself at home. The design isn’t open-source, but they have made it available as a free download.
How well Drone for Handy performs, however, is yet to be seen. Each hand requires several SG90 micro servo motors and an Arduino Nano to control them. That isn’t a trivial amount of weight. But the quadcopter frame is designed to accommodate standard drone parts, so you can probably handle that weight if you choose powerful motors and a big battery. You’ll also need to come up with all of the code yourself, as Youbionic isn’t providing any. That means you’ll have to figure out how to make the drone fly while also controlling the hands. But if you’ve got some time and a good imagination, Drone for Handy might be worth building.