DALER Is a Flying Robot that Walks on Its Wings Like a Bat

DALER 1 photo
Jules Verne would be constantly in shock if he had lived in the 21st century and there simply is no doubt in that whatsoever. Every now and then we get the same feeling, especially when we discover how far engineers are going with their urge to revolutionize the way machines move. Their latest brainchild: a robot replicate of a vampire bat.
It would seem one of the biggest problems scientists are currently facing when it comes to machines that fly is not their power source (we all know there’s a solar-powered airplane about to lift of for a trip around the planet) or their speed capacity (commercial flights will soon switch to supersonic speeds). No, brainiacs are currently looking to design small aircrafts that are capable of continuing their mission on terrain once they land. In other words, having a craft that is able to fly and walk/drive is what some are looking after.

Here’s when you’re going to tell us such thing already exists, like the Airmobile is. Yes, but DALER is about something completely different. It’s an unmanned craft, that would be used in critical sites.

A team from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland and The National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics have recently published a paper in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics in which they talk about a new kind of robot that can also walk. Called DALLER, which stands for Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot, the machine uses adaptive morphology inspired by the common vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus.

Wings are foldable and act as legs

In other words, the wings have been actuated using a foldable skeleton mechanism covered with a soft fabric so that they can be used both as wings and as legs. The aircraft is meant to be used in search and rescue operations, since its dual modes of locomotion enables it to fly long distances to survey large spaces in a short timespan and then to walk into dangerous or inaccessible area.

Once the robot decides it will land, it folds its wings to half. The wings then rotate around a hinge that attaches the wings/legs to the body in order to enable walking. Watching the video below, you might think the prototype rather looks like a kid’s toy of some sort. But give it a bit of patience and until the clip ends you’ll want one.

The DALER robot was first unveiled in 2013, but it would seem the latest version can fly at rates of around 45 mph in the air and about 2 1/2 inches per second on the ground. Further improvements are still needed, but at some point the DALER framework could permit the craft to land, conduct reconnaissance for the ground, adjust itself for a return flight, and take off.

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