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The humanoid robot is "skilled", walking a tightrope and playing skateboard, it also be flying !


On October 9th, researchers from the California Institute of Technology have developed a bipedal robot that combines bipedal walking and flying motions, making it extremely flexible and able to perform complex motions, such as sliding. Skateboarding, tightrope walking, etc.

▲LEO walks along the rope tied between the trees

The design of this robot is inspired by the various behaviors of birds between walking and flying. The researchers named it LEONARDO (legs on the "legsonboarddrone" drone, or LEO for short). LEO can achieve fine control of its own balance through multi-articulated legs and propeller-based propellers.

The researchers stated in the research paper that LEO can perform various tasks that are difficult for humans and traditional robots to perform thanks to its hybrid motion capabilities. High-altitude operations will be one of the most suitable applications for LEO, such as the maintenance of high-voltage lines, and spray paint on high-altitude bridges.

The research was published this Wednesday in Science Robotics, a sub-journal of Science, and appeared on the cover of the journal this month. The title of the thesis is "Abipedalwalkingrobotthatcanfly, slackline, andskateboard (a biped walking robot that can fly, walk a tightrope, and skateboard)".

First. Change the traditional way of motion, so that the robot can run and fly

Most of the existing robots can move on the ground or in the air, but there are almost no robots that have both of these modes of movement. In addition, the existing robots rarely have the ability to perform complex tasks.

Ground robots have legged, wheeled, crawling and other forms. Among them, biped robots have attracted much attention because they have the appearance of humans and can walk, run, and jump like humans. However, the movement of ground robots is easily restricted by rugged terrain, and its application range is also limited to near the ground, making it difficult to work at heights.

Flying robots can ignore all kinds of rugged terrain and engage in aerial work such as remote sensing, delivery, search and rescue, and inspection. But its own shortcomings are also very obvious, such as high energy consumption, short flight time, and limited load capacity. In addition, because aerial robots need to take care of their own stability when working in the air, it is more difficult to physically interact with objects than ground robots.

The researchers combined the advantages of these two robots, allowing LEO to combine walking and flying motion modes for mixed motion, and adapt to various rugged terrains by switching between different motion modes.

▲LEO walked to the front of the steps and flew down the steps

Second. The height of 75 cm is only 5 kg and the weight is 4 propellers.

The weight of LEO is 2.58 kg and the overall height when walking is 75 cm. It is mainly composed of a torso, a propeller propulsion system and two legs with pointed heels.

In order to make it light enough, LEO’s leg structure uses carbon fiber tubes and 3D printed carbon fiber reinforced nylon joints to support ball bearings. Its two legs are symmetrical. Each leg has 3 servo motors. One is located at the pelvis and the other two are located at the front and back of the hip. The three servo motors jointly control the movement of the legs.

LEO’s shoulders are equipped with 4 symmetrically placed propellers to stabilize and control walking and flight movements.

▲LEO's electronic and mechanical parts

LEO can operate completely autonomously through its onboard computer and sensor suite. Depending on the type of obstacle that needs to be traversed, it can choose to use walking or flying, or mix the two as needed.

During walking, LEO’s propellers ensure that it can stay upright while walking, and the leg actuators move the center of gravity of the robot forward by changing the position of the legs to achieve walking. In flight, LEO can use propellers alone and fly like a drone.

Third, skiing, walking a tightrope, high-altitude operation is the biggest application direction

Thanks to its ability to mix sports, researchers found that it can complete some actions that are difficult for conventional robots, such as walking on ropes and sliding on skateboards. And it also has a very high anti-interference ability, and it can remain stable even at wind speeds up to 3.8m/s.

▲LEO skateboard to bypass obstacles

The researchers said in the paper: "Perhaps the most suitable applications for LEO are those involving high-altitude operations. These tasks are usually dangerous for humans and require robots to replace them."

For example, the current high-voltage line inspection is done by professionals, who not only have to remotely inspect the line, but also go on the line for inspection and maintenance. Using LEO, there is no need to send personnel to climb up the wires, and only use the robot to fly onto high-voltage lines and walk along the wires for maintenance work. This will reduce maintenance costs and reduce the possibility of falling casualties.

In addition to these effects, the technology designed for LEO can also promote the development of adaptive landing gear systems. The research team envisions that future Martian rotorcraft can be equipped with legged landing gear so that they can maintain their balance when landing on sloping or uneven terrain, thereby reducing the risk of landing failure.

Next, the team plans to improve the performance of LEO by improving the leg design to make it stronger to support heavier robots and increase the thrust of the propeller. In addition, they also hope that LEO can be more autonomous, so that when the robot is walking on rugged terrain, it can understand how much weight the legs support and how much thrust is required by the propeller.

The researchers also plan to equip LEO with a newly developed control algorithm that uses a deep neural network to control the landing of the drone, allowing the robot to better understand the environment and decide on its own the best combination of walking, flying or mixed motion. The safest and least energy-consuming way to move from one place to another.

Conclusion: Robot Leo Can run and fly, so that the application space of biped robots is broader

Because of its human appearance, biped robots can imitate humans to complete various tasks. However, due to environmental and terrain conditions, the movement of biped robots will be restricted in many cases.

LEO combines walking and flying to allow biped robots to run and fly, breaking the obstacle of terrain and making it more widely used.

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