At the office, when we see experiments in hybrid design like this we always title the email thread "Unicorn or Spork?" (brilliant innovation or the worst-of-both-worlds). Not sure which of those this walking flying wing from EPFL falls into, but you have to admire the mechanicals, at least. 

From Robohub:

The Deployable Air Land Exploration Robot (DALER) uses its own wings to crawl and roll over a variety of terrains. Using a self-adjusting structure to transform its wings into rotating arms, the robot is able to flip, rotate and navigate its way around and over obstacles on the ground. Sharing the wings across different modes of locomotion reduces the amount of infrastructure and weight the robot must carry, thus improving flight performance. The ability to adapt to a variety of environments is important in search and rescue operations, where both air and ground searching may be required.


The DALER is currently optimized for ground speed. The prototype shown in the video above can move forward at 0.2 m/s (0.7 BL/s), can rotate on spot at 25°/s, and is capable of walking with different gaits. Future iterations of the robot will focus on increasing the adaptability of the wings to improve forward flight, hover flight and displacement on the ground. For example, wings could be fully deployed for flying outdoors and reduced for hover flight and ground modes.

The DALER was developed at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, where researchers investigate bio-inspired artificial intelligence, develop autonomous robotic systems, and address biological questions using computational and robotic models.

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Comment by Flying Monkey on July 26, 2013 at 2:50pm

Kinda funny to watch!  VERY innovative though!

Comment by Gary McCray on July 26, 2013 at 6:53pm

Aside from looking like a dying bat on the ground, this is really very cool, with sufficient thrust you could even imagine it might be able to do a straight up from the ground take off as well.

Clearly it is also an example of keeping the weight low enough to make it practical, but it is truly remarkable for the wide range of locomotion capability it has.

This particular example might not be very useful, but I'd be seriously concerned if a B52 dropped a couple of hundred of these and they started landing around me and crawling around, probably just defined the next Terminator movie.

Comment by Digital Wings on July 26, 2013 at 9:54pm
I like how he coined the term "whegs"
Comment by Greg Dronsky on July 27, 2013 at 1:39am

Very innovative, but when it "walks", it looks like it's about to say "kill meeeee..." ;).

Comment by Martin Mueller on July 27, 2013 at 8:32am


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on July 27, 2013 at 8:33am

Martin: Whoops! Corrected. Thanks for catching that. 

Comment by Harry on July 27, 2013 at 9:32am

I think they'd do better to "hatch" a rover and shed the wings once it is on the ground.  That thing isnt getting back up.

Comment by Crashpilot1000 on July 27, 2013 at 10:20am

If it could put it self into an upright position again and start it might be of some use. Fly over somewhere crawl, somewhere to hide and launch again later. Just landing and showing agony on the ground  - well that can not be its' sole purpose. Maybe its' purpose is to get some research funds ....

Comment by John Githens on July 28, 2013 at 10:33am

A fascinating example of an unmanned hybrid vehicle. Next we may see one that flys-hops-flys, then another that rolls-flys-rolls, and another that...


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