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Flying Robot Can Walk and Fly

A two-legged Robot inspired by birds can walk, skateboard, fly and balance on a slackline, which is like a loose tightrope. It could become a new tool to monitor infrastructure in hard-to-reach environments. The paper was published in Science Robot.The Robot, named LEONARDO by its creators at the California Institute of Technology and Northeastern University in Boston, is a human-like machine with knee, hip and ankle joints. It also has rotor blades for arms that give it upward thrust.

The Robot is 75 centimetres tall, weighs 2.6 kilograms and walks at up to 20cm per second. It is the first Robot to achieve seamless integration of walking. The thrusters have been changed from two coaxial propellers to four tilted propellers, enabling attitude control in all directions.

Soon-Jo Chung, corresponding author and Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems said that they drew inspiration from nature. Think about the way birds are able to flap and hop to navigate telephone lines. A complex yet intriguing behavior happens as birds move between walking and flying. They wanted to understand and learn from that.

The author also added that there is a similarity between how a human wearing a jet suit controls their legs and feet when landing or taking off and how LEO uses synchronized control of distributed propeller-based thrusters and leg joints.

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