From IEEE Spectrum, a report on the latest EPFL research on bio-inspired flying robots: 

Gliding is a very efficient way for getting from getting from point A to point B. Jumping is a very efficient way of getting into the air at point A, especially if there are a bunch of obstacles between point A and point B that it would be a good idea to be airborne to make it over. Grasshoppers have been doing this for, I dunno, probably like a hundred million years, and roboticists at EPFL are starting to design their robots with the same kind of jumping talents and expandable wings as our orthopteran friends.

The jumping part, and the crawling around on the ground part, is somewhat impaired by the bot's giant wings, which is why getting this whole folding thing figured out would be pretty cool. Here's the locust-inspired folding mechanism in action:

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Comment by Jack Crossfire on December 27, 2011 at 1:03pm

Something that could work on solar power.

Comment by Geoffrey L. Barrows on December 28, 2011 at 9:16am

I remember a discussion with others at NRL, back in 1998 or so- One of the prominent researchers there stated that the best model for a MAV would not be a bird but a locust for just this reason- it would have the ability to walk, hop, and fly. (Yes, charging via solar power was brought up.) Later on though I thought that a better model might be a duck, since ducks can also swim. Thanks to Gary Larson, though, ducks are now funny and hard to take seriously. All that aside, it is nice though to see the locust concept being pursued.


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