Researchers at Caltech have developed a creepy robot that can walk on two feet and also fly. The robot named LEONARD (LEgs ONboARD drone), or LEO for short, is basically the bottom part of a humanoid robot that has a drone attached on top of it.
The team wasn’t trying to build a mass-marketable invention, but to try out new ways of locomotion for robots meant to perform dangerous tasks and explore hard-to-reach places. Also, the robot is capable of doing cool stuff such as skateboarding and slacklining.
Powering the robot is a challenge
The researchers suggest that their robot can carry equipment on the surface of other worlds, including Mars or Saturn’s moon Titan.
“We drew inspiration from nature,” said Soon-Jo Chung, corresponding author of the paper. “A complex yet intriguing behavior happens as birds move between walking and flying,” Chung added. “We wanted to understand and learn from that.”
One of the biggest challenges for the team was to provide enough power to the bot so it can fly after covering some distance on the ground.“Based on the types of obstacles it needs to traverse, LEO can choose to use either walking or flying or blend the two as needed,” Patrick Spieler, co-lead author, said in the statement.
Researchers trying to perfect LEO
“In addition, LEO is capable of performing unusual locomotion maneuvers that even in humans require a mastery of balance, like walking on a slackline and skateboarding,” he added.
Now, the researchers are hoping to decrease LEO’s weight and increase the thrust of its propellers that will enable it to cover more area.
Recently, Boston Dynamics also gave a sneak peek into its facility where the engineers work on making its Atlas robot better. The Atlas team’s main focus is parkour, a training regime that involves an obstacle course.