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Creepy Robot Combines Walking With Flying, Watch It Ride a Skateboard Like a Pro

What you see here is actually a drone with two legs attached to its base that is capable of performing complex movements – at least that's the best way to describe this strange machine. Called Leonardo, the robot can walk a slackline, hop, and even ride a skateboard.
Leonardo is part robot, part flying drone 6 photos
This robot combines walking with flying to achieve a great level of control and balanceThis robot combines walking with flying to achieve a great level of control and balanceThis robot combines walking with flying to achieve a great level of control and balanceThis robot combines walking with flying to achieve a great level of control and balanceThis robot combines walking with flying to achieve a great level of control and balance
Developed by a team of researchers at Caltech's Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies, Leonardo (short for LEgs ONboARD drone) is the first robot that uses multi-joint legs and propeller-based thrusters to achieve a high level of control and balance.

To create Leonardo, the team drew inspiration from nature. More specifically, from how the birds behave when they move between walking and flying. They tried to reproduce the incredible balance that birds have when they hop and stand on power lines.

And they did. They put together two legs with three actuated joints, along with four propeller thrusters mounted at an angle at the robot's "shoulders." And that's how the 2-feet (0.60 m) tall robot was born.

By combining walking with flying, the researchers achieved a sort of hybrid locomotion that gives it remarkable balance. Leonardo's lightweight legs reduce tension on its thrusters by carrying the majority of the weight while its thrusters are controlled simultaneously with the leg joints.

"Robots with a multimodal locomotion ability are able to move through challenging environments more efficiently than traditional robots by appropriately switching between their available means of movement," says Kyunam Kim, a postdoctoral researcher at Caltech.

Currently, researchers are working on improving the robot's overall performance by developing more durable legs that will be capable of carrying more of its weight. They are also looking to increase the propulsion force of the propellers.

The team also plans to make Leonardo more autonomous so that it can choose on its own the optimal combination of walking, flying, or hybrid motion when moving from one location to another.

To find out more about Leonardo's design, you can read the team's paper published on Science Robotics. You can also see the robot ride a skateboard, walk a slackline and do all sorts of tricks in the video down below.

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