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Watch this delightful aerial robot dance with its dangly legs

This quadcopter-powered aerial-biped robot looks like a fun dance partner.

This robot uses a quadrotor to fly, giving it the appearance of walking and dancing.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Dancing robots are nothing new. We've seen them shake their metal money-makers in dance contests and even break a Guinness World Record for dancing en masse.

Now researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed a new aerial-biped robot that can fly using a quadrotor (another term for quadcopter). The robot also has servo motors in its leg joints to enable movement.

Designed more for entertainment than anything utilitarian, the amusing-looking prototype robot looks like it's walking or dancing using its slim dangly legs. 

Bipedal robots often suffer from slow and heavy motions that cause them to fall. But this aerial biped robot uses a physics simulator that senses the velocity of the quadrotor and automatically makes the legs move, according to an IEEE Spectrum interview Monday with Azumi Maekawa, lead researcher of a paper on the robot presented at the Siggraph conference in Vancouver.

Because the velocity of the robot's feet is zero, the robot can generate a walking gait.

The goal of the research is to "develop a robot that has the ability to display the appearance of bipedal walking with dynamic mobility, and to provide a new visual experience," Maekawa told IEEE. "The robot enables walking motion with very slender legs like those of a flamingo without impairing dynamic mobility. This approach enables casual users to choreograph biped robot walking without expertise."

The success of the research into creating a new kind of quadcopter-powered aerial-biped robot means that entertainment applications like performance or animatronics are not far away.

Maybe it's the techno music used in a video posted by Maekawa that makes this "walking" robot look like it is having the best time on the dance floor. All that's missing is a tiny disco ball.

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