Robot that flies and skates? yes it already exists

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in the USA, have developed a hybrid bipedal robot capable of walking and flying. Among other impressive abilities, he can also perform tricks on a skateboard and balance himself on a slackline rope.

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  • His name is Leonado (short for LEgs ONboARD drOne, or simply LEO), and he is the first android to use multi-articulated legs and propellers with propellers to improve the degree of control over his balance, making him incredibly agile and capable of performing complex movements, difficult even for a human being. human.

    “We are inspired by nature. Think about how birds manage to flap their wings and jump to balance themselves on phone lines. It’s a complex and intriguing behavior that happens when birds alternate between walking and flying,” explains engineering professor Soon-Jo Chung, lead author of the study.

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    Leonardo

    Measuring 80 centimeters in height, the LEO can balance itself on two very thin legs, composed of three joints that give the robot a walk similar to that of a chicken wearing high heels. Four propellers on its shoulders — similar to those used on drones — not only correct posture but also allow it to fly.

    By using this hybrid system, the researchers were able to improve the robot’s locomotion capacity. The lightweight legs relieve stress on the thrusters, supporting most of the weight in sync with the joints. This makes the bot much more balanced compared to other bipedal models.

    “Based on the types of obstacles it needs to cross, the LEO can choose to walk or fly, or combine the two as needed. In addition, he is able to perform unusual locomotion maneuvers that require body control and balance, such as skating or venturing on the slackline”, adds engineer Patrick Spieler, co-author of the study.

    Version 2.0

    The Caltech team plans to improve the performance of the next version of LEO by adding stiffer legs and more powerful propellers so that the robot can support more weight. In addition, the idea is to make it more autonomous so that it can walk over uneven terrain.

    LEO doing tricks on a skateboard (Image: Reproduction/Caltech)514869

    Using a drone landing control algorithm based on deep neural networks, LEO would have a more realistic understanding of the environment. This would improve your ability to make your own decisions about the ideal combination to get around—walking, flying, or both together—by evaluating what is safer and consumes less energy.

    “A future Mars helicopter could be equipped with a legged landing gear, like the LEO’s, so that your body balance is maintained while descending on steep or uneven terrain, thus reducing the risk of failure in challenging landing conditions. This design is just a prototype of what’s to come,” predicts Soon-Jo Chung

    Source: Caltech

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