Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign demonstrated a robotic bird that lands perched on someone's hand. From UIUC:
Perching is routinely used by birds to land on objects such as tree branches, power wires, or building ledges. According to the researchers, there are two factors that make perching challenging to engineer: 1) the maneuver’s duration is very short, on the same order as the aircraft dynamics, and 2) a high level of position accuracy is required for a successful perched landing.
“Our aerial robot concept lacks a vertical tail for improved agility, similar to birds, which renders it dynamically unstable and exacerbates both of these factors,” (postdoc Aditya) Paranjape said. “We choose a perching maneuver to demonstrate the capabilities of our articulated-winged aircraft concept, novel guidance algorithms, and control design. In particular, the ability to perform perched landings on a human hand endows our robot with the ability to operate around humans.”
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.