I was just wondering if it was possible to buy or build a programmable drone with a robotic arm,hand, knife.

I want to program a drone to harvest crops.

-object recognition from live video stream to server

-identify and grab objects with arm, make cut if necessary

-transport produce to collection site

I know this would take much knowlege from many fields but do any you have any forsight into the limitations of doing this other than energy for power.

Estimates on cost of hardware?

  • $\begingroup$ My experience tells me that this is very difficult. The movement+ will impact the tuning algo (PIDs). Here is the lesson I learned a long time ago: I put a new GoPro Session on a frame. I thought I would be "smart" and use the session mount/etc, as opposed to strapping the cam down on the frame. The cam had a tiny bit of unavoidable play, movement, and bounce in the mounting as it stuck out a little off the frame, similar to an arm. This made the drone unusable and I could not tune out the feedback loop introduced by the arm. Conclusion: Arm mass and movement needs to be in the math. $\endgroup$
    – Marc
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ @datamafia I thought there would be helpful open source code or frameworks to handle this.... oh well. One library of code for loaction of objects in realtion to a point on the drone which would automatically manipulate movement commands. $\endgroup$
    – JerryA
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ I think it is possible, but you need to add considerable math to compensate for the arm and tune the movement activly into the PID loop. I have not seen any external "arm" on any drone yet and I think there is a reason. Sure, there are gimbals, but the center of mass of the gimbal and drone is not effected much by the movement. Also, each arm movement will have an equal an opposite force that must be handled in the PID loop >> rotate arm to right and the drone will want to rotate left - for example. $\endgroup$
    – Marc
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


There is no ready to fly model or kit. You should do it yourself arm/hand/knife. But if you use extra blade like propellers you can use it as a harvester. BLDC motors have enough power.


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