In this paper, we present the mechanical design and modeling of a manipulation system for unmanned aerial vehicles, which have to physically interact with environments and perform ultrasonic non-destructive testing experiments and other versatile tasks at unreachable locations for humans. The innovation of the prototype lies in the use of a three degrees of freedom Delta robotic manipulator together with a non- destructive testing end effector, realized by a Cardan gimbal that allows the ultrasonic sensor to compliantly interact with the remote environment. The Cardan gimbal is endowed with a small actuator for the roll motion of the end-effector, a compliant element in the direction of interaction and two passive rotational degrees of freedom with defined equilibria to overcome gravity and to define a stable zero reference. Simulation results of a ducted-fan unmanned aerial vehicle interacting with a wall validate the overall mechanical design.
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