Meet LEO, a bipedal robot that can walk, fly and even ride a skateboard

Meet LEO, a bipedal robot that can walk, fly and even ride a skateboard
LEO is short for LEONARDO which is again short for LEgs ONboARD drOne. Caltech
  • Caltech’s latest project is a bipedal robot that can walk and fly.
  • It’s described as a part walking robot and part flying robot.
  • The robot can also ride a skateboard and walk a slackline.
We’ve seen robots of various kinds like cute ones that can be your companion or pet, serving robots, and ones that can even dance. Meet LEO, a new bipedal robot developed by researchers at Caltech, that can easily switch between walking and flying. The robot can even ride a skateboard, and while that sounds impressive the robot’s insect-like design and sudden switch to flying can definitely scare anyone.

LEO is short for LEONARDO which is again short for LEgs ONboARD drOne. Caltech describes it as a part walking robot and a part flying robot as it can walk a slackline and hop as well. LEO is also said to be the first robot that uses multi-joint legs and propeller-based thrusters that helps it achieve a fine degree of control over its balance.

The reason behind making LEO capable of flying was so that it could avoid rough terrain. Caltech in a blog post explained how bipedal robots can tackle real-world terrains by using the same movements as humans but find it difficult to tackle rough terrain. This is where LEO’s flying ability comes into play as it can simply avoid the rough terrain altogether. LEO can even blend the two - walking and flying to perform tasks like walking on a slackline and skateboarding.

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This is the first prototype for LEO and the team at Caltech plans to make more improvements to it. LEO will be given a more rigid leg design that can support more of its weight which will help increase the force of the propellers that it uses to fly. There are also plans of making LEO more autonomous so that it understands “how much of its weight is supported by legs and how much needs to be supported by propellers when walking on uneven terrain.”

In addition to this, LEO is also expected to be equipped with a drone landing control algorithm powered by neural networks. This will help the robot understand and make its own decisions for the best combination of walking, flying, or hybrid motion. The decisions will be based on what’s the safest and also energy saving for the robot.

The team at Caltech also envisions robots like LEO to be used on the surface of Mars that has rough terrain as they can achieve a balanced landing which can help reduce the risk of failure.


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