This Skateboarding, Slacklining Robot Is Part Humanoid, Part Drone
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This Skateboarding, Slacklining Robot Is Part Humanoid, Part Drone

Science
Speaker 1: This self-balancing drone robot can skateboard fly over obstacles and even walk on a tight rope. Like it's no big deal. This is Leonardo short for legs, onboard drone or Leo for short, it's the brainchild of the center for autonomous systems and technologies at Caltech. And it's designed to solve a lot of the main problems with walking, humanoid robots and drones. By combining them into one robot, it [00:00:30] has thin articulated legs and four synchronized propellers on its arms for providing lift those propellers, help it fly kind of like a regular drone, if that drone had legs and a big alien like head, but the propellers are also what Leo uses for balance and control. And that is the secret source. Speaker 2: According Speaker 1: To the team at Caltech, there are plenty of robots that just fly or just walk. Think of, for [00:01:00] example, the robots from Boston dynamics that are shaped and designed to look like sturdy walking machines. But according to the researchers, walking robots, aren't always able to handle obstacles or rough terrain drones solve that problem by flying over the obstacles. But they also have limitations when it comes to the power required to keep the airborne and how much they can actually carry Leo aims to fix those problems by building, walking, and flying into one machine, [00:01:30] as well as creating a type of hybrid movement. That's somewhere in between the two special sensors built into the feet of the robot can detect when Leo is making contact with the ground, that information is then synchronized with the propellers. So the robot can switch between walking and flying modes, but it's not just about switching from walking to flying the combination of those articulated legs and the propellers on the arms of the robot make Leo really nimble [00:02:00] and agile. The team drew inspiration from birds that hop or flap to stay steady on telephone wires. They also looked at how humans fly with jet packs naturally using their legs to steady themselves as they take off or land one. Speaker 1: When Leo is walking along the ground, its legs support the bulk of its weight, which takes pressure off the propellers having to lift the entire body of the robot. But those propellers can then act like stabilizers to like stabilizes adjusting [00:02:30] in real time to help the robot balance that allows the robot to do things like skateboarding and even slack lining, staying upright and balancing in a way that plenty of humans can't even do that balance also comes in handy when it comes to external interference. The team at Caltech put Leo in front of a wind tunnel next to a commercial drone. When the wind picked up, the drone blew away, but Leo [00:03:00] stayed upright. Thanks to friction contact with the ground. The researchers also conducted what they called applied perturbation experiments or what we'd call everyone's favorite activity, poking the robot with a big stick. Even with that kind of force, the propellers helped the robots stay upright. Speaker 1: So why do you need a hybrid walking, flying robot? Well, I mean, everyone needs [00:03:30] a hybrid walking, flying robot, but the researchers say this kind of robotic device could be used in situations where it's too dangerous for humans to go. They could fly up to telephone wires and balance on the line to make repairs or even do inspections in hard to reach places like tall bridges or the roofs of buildings. And if Leo starts to fall, it can just fly itself to safety. The team at Caltech began developing the legs on board drone robot in 2019 and say, there are still plenty [00:04:00] of features they'd like to add. That includes making Leo more autonomous so it can make its own decisions about when to use its legs to walk or when to use its propellers to fly or when to use a combination of both as what's next. Speaker 1: Well, the researchers say this technology could be used to help develop adaptive landing gear systems for flying vehicles and robots. One day they say we could even see this kind of self-balancing walking slash flying technology in [00:04:30] aerial vehicles sent to Mars, essentially anywhere you have a robot that needs to navigate tough terrain or make difficult aerial landings, but even without these very scientific and practical applications, I think there's one area of demand that Leo could definitely fill. I for one, wanna see a robot take on Tony hog. All right. What do you think is Leo the kind of hybrid robot you could see solving problems in the future? Let me know in the comments below, and if you wanna check out more amazing futuristic [00:05:00] robotic tech, take a look at these other videos from what the future until next time I'm Claire Riley for what the future bringing you the world of tomorrow today.

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