Passive Magnetic Latching Mechanisms For Robotic Applications

  • Usman Fiaz

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This thesis investigates the passive magnetic latching mechanism designs for autonomous aerial grasping and programmable self-assembly. The enormous latching potential of neodymium magnets is a well-established fact when it comes to their ability to interact with ferrous surfaces in particular. The force of attraction or repulsion among the magnets is strong enough to keep the levitation trains, and high speed transportation pods off the rails. But such utilization of these desirable magnetic properties in commercial applications, comes at a cost of high power consumption since the magnets used are usually electromagnets. On the other hand, we explore some useful robotic applications of passive (and hence low cost) magnetic latching; which are of vital importance in autonomous aerial transportation, automated drone-based package deliveries, and programmable self-assembly and self-reconfigurable systems. We propose, and implement a novel, attach/detach mechatronic mechanism, based on passive magnetic latching of permanent magnets for usBots; our indige- nously built programmable self-assembly robots, and show that it validates the game theoretic self-assembly algorithms. Another application addressed in this thesis is the utilization of permanent magnets in autonomous aerial grasping for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). We present a novel gripper design for ferrous objects with a passive magnetic pick up and an impulse based drop. For both the applications, we highlight the importance, simplicity and effectiveness of the proposed designs while providing a brief comparison with the other technologies out there.
Date of AwardApr 2017
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorJeff Shamma (Supervisor)


  • Robotics
  • Intelligent systems
  • Control
  • Self-assembly
  • Aerial grasping
  • Smart design

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