From IEEE Spectrum:

Designing a robot that can traverse variable terrain usually involves a number of unsatisfactory compromises. You can go with a flying robot, which will almost never get stuck, but is of limited use in detailed sensing and can't operate for very long. Or, you can go with a ground robot, which is much more efficient, but also much more likely to run into an obstacle that it can't get around.

An ideal platform would spend most of its time on the ground but still be able to fly when it needs to, but this is a very tricky thing to make happen, since the design of something that drives is fundamentally different from the design of something that flies. Researchers from the Center for Distributed Robotics at the University of Minnesota have managed to create a single robot that can actually do this effectively.

As it turns out, it was actually more efficient to design the robot with two completely independent motor systems than to try to design a transmission that would allow the low speed wheel motors to power the rotors or vice versa. And even then, it's still extremely complicated: the rotor folding mechanism cost almost US $20,000 to create. With that in mind, future developments for this platform will focus on making things simpler, while also teaching the robot to take advantage of its hybrid nature when it comes to autonomous path planning.

The researchers -- Alex Kossett and robotics professor and IEEE Fellow Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos -- describe their work in a paper, "A Robust Miniature Robot Design for Land/Air Hybrid Locomotion," presented yesterday at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), in Shanghai.

Views: 409

Comment by Ritchie on May 16, 2011 at 10:47am
I'm gonna state this right now.
That is ******* awesome (no not just awesome or good or brilliant).
Comment by Luke on May 16, 2011 at 10:47am
$20 grand! That looks like a Lama with some extra servos...

Actually, on closer inspection, the chopper in the video is not the same as in their diagram. The diagram shows a collective pitch arrangement with tail boom. In the video they're using a coaxial.
Comment by Jonathan Lussier on May 16, 2011 at 12:57pm
I think you could build something much much more robust for much less money!!  why only two wheels?  It won't be able to go over any rocks!
Comment by Dimitar Kolev on May 16, 2011 at 1:23pm

A little bit of humor from cold war turns into reality... It was about peaceful looking russian combine (harvester) that was attacked from an enemy (any enemy for any reason). so in russian it sounds very funny, and rough translation is

- combine turnaround, attack and destroy the enemy and take off to Space :-))



Comment by Jonathan Lussier on May 16, 2011 at 1:37pm
Haha Dimitar, it's true it does look like the front of a combine!!
Comment by Jack Crossfire on May 16, 2011 at 2:19pm
Now for it to put on the training gear autonomously & transform back into a rover.
Comment by Bernard Michaud on May 18, 2011 at 8:14am

Brilliant and inspiring



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