Half-terrestrial, half-aerial, Leonardo is an astonishing hybrid robot endowed with mobility that gives it unprecedented versatility.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have come up with an astonishingbipedal, able to walk as well as fly. If he doesn’t really look like Iron Man, he is nonetheless terribly agile. It could very well in the future help soldiers and more rescuers.
Leonardo (abbreviation of LEGS ONBOARD) is presented both as a walker and like a steering wheel, remote control. It can even jump and skateboard, according to its designers. To keep perfectly in balance, he uses both his two articulated legs and propeller as an arm. This could allow it, in theory, to gain particularly agile access to certain places inaccessible to humans.
There are alreadymore or less sophisticated bipeds, able to evolve on slightly uneven terrain. But, by equipping Leonardo with propellers allowing him to fly, Caltech researchers have developed a machine that can fly over these areas while remaining in balance, without risk of damage. In this way, it is possible for him to fly over some obstacles before resting and then walking again on more comfortable ground.
The army, emergency services and why not space exploration
At the moment, Leonardo is still quite small, around 75cm tall. The team that developed it now wants to improve it, in particular by managing to make its legs more rigid and by increasing the thrust force of the propellers. Ultimately, the idea is also that the robot can be “intelligent” enough to distribute in a perfectly autonomous way the load of the forces which weighs on its legs and on its propellers, in particular on uneven ground.