Whether you think it’s cool or scary, robots are becoming more agile – and Caltech’s LEONARDO looks like one of the most agile examples. LEO walks on two legs, jumps and flies, can balance on slides and even skateboards.
Most robots are stuck with one movement pattern – they can fly, swim or walk or drive on the ground. But these bots can have a higher chance of overcoming obstacles by combining multiple modes of transport and LEONARDO is like a prime example of that.
About 2.5 ft (0.8 m) tall, LEO walks on skinny three-joint legs like a chicken in high heels. Its exceptional balancing skills are achieved by four drone-like propellers on its shoulders, which not only help correct its posture but also allow it to soar into the sky to jump over rough terrain. , stairs or other obstacles.
“We draw inspiration from nature,” said Soon-Jo Chung, the study’s corresponding author. Think of how birds can flap and jump to navigate phone lines. We want to understand and learn from that. “
These mixed motion modes give LEO a few advantages over choosing one or the other. Its thrusters give it better balance than a typical two-legged robot, while the legs eliminate the pressure of the thrusters by supporting most of its weight.
In fact, the only thing about the clumsy robot is its name. LEONARDO apparently stands for “LEgs ONboARD drOne,” which reads almost like satire. If you want to name your awesome robot “Leonardo”, you can do it without pretending that it is an acronym.
LEO has come a long way in the two years since it was first announced. The robot has gone from tether tests in the lab to walking and flying around outside, and it has picked up two neat tricks that demonstrate its agility expertly. The team got the robot to walk on a slide without falling, and it was even able to skateboard through a set of traffic cones – both tasks that many people would struggle with, let alone other robots.
The team says that LEO will also be more agile. Future versions will have stiffer legs, more thrust, and smarter algorithms to help it navigate, walk, fly, and land more efficiently.
The study was published in the journal Robotics Science. Check out LEO in action in the video below.
Leonardo: Skateboarding robot, skateboarding