LEONARDO, the bipedal robotic, can experience a skateboard and stroll a slackline

LEONARDO, the bipedal robotic, can experience a skateboard and stroll a slackline

Credit score: California Institute of Know-how

Researchers at Caltech have constructed a bipedal robotic that mixes strolling with flying to create a brand new kind of locomotion, making it exceptionally nimble and able to complicated actions.

Half strolling robotic, half flying drone, the newly developed LEONARDO (brief for LEgs ONboARD drOne, or LEO for brief) can stroll a slackline, hop, and even experience a skateboard. Developed by a staff at Caltech’s Heart for Autonomous Programs and Applied sciences (CAST), LEO is the primary robotic that makes use of multi-joint legs and propeller-based thrusters to realize a high quality diploma of management over its steadiness.

A paper concerning the LEO robotic was revealed on-line on October 6 and was featured on the October 2021 cowl of Science Robotics.

“We drew inspiration from nature. Take into consideration the best way birds are capable of flap and hop to navigate phone strains,” says Quickly-Jo Chung, corresponding creator and Bren Professor of Aerospace and Management and Dynamical Programs. “A fancy but intriguing conduct occurs as birds transfer between strolling and flying. We needed to know and be taught from that.”

“There’s a similarity between how a human sporting a jet swimsuit controls their legs and ft when touchdown or taking off and the way LEO makes use of synchronized management of distributed propeller-based thrusters and leg joints,” Chung provides. “We needed to review the interface of strolling and flying from the dynamics and management standpoint.”






Bipedal robots are capable of deal with complicated real-world terrains by utilizing the identical form of actions that people use, like leaping or operating and even climbing stairs, however they’re stymied by tough terrain. Flying robots simply navigate robust terrain by merely avoiding the bottom, however they face their very own set of limitations: Excessive power consumption throughout flight and restricted payload capability. “Robots with a multimodal locomotion skill are capable of transfer by way of difficult environments extra effectively than conventional robots by appropriately switching between their accessible technique of motion. Specifically, LEO goals to bridge the hole between the 2 disparate domains of aerial and bipedal locomotion that aren’t sometimes intertwined in current robotic methods,” says Kyunam Kim, postdoctoral researcher at Caltech and co-lead creator of the Science Robotics paper.

By utilizing a hybrid motion that’s someplace between strolling and flying, the researchers get the most effective of each worlds by way of locomotion. LEO’s light-weight legs take stress off of its thrusters by supporting the majority of the load, however as a result of the thrusters are managed synchronously with leg joints, LEO has uncanny steadiness.

“Primarily based on the sorts of obstacles it must traverse, LEO can select to make use of both strolling or flying, or mix the 2 as wanted. As well as, LEO is able to performing uncommon locomotion maneuvers that even in people require a mastery of steadiness, like strolling on a slackline and skateboarding,” says Patrick Spieler, co-lead creator of the Science Robotics paper and a former member of Chung’s group who’s at the moment with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by Caltech for NASA.

LEO stands 2.5 ft tall and is provided with two legs which have three actuated joints, together with 4 propeller thrusters mounted at an angle on the robotic’s shoulders. When an individual walks, they modify the place and orientation of their legs to trigger their middle of mass to maneuver ahead whereas the physique’s steadiness is maintained. LEO walks on this method as effectively: The propellers be sure that the robotic is upright because it walks, and the leg actuators change the place of the legs to maneuver the robotic’s middle of mass ahead by way of using a synchronized strolling and flying controller. In flight, the robotic makes use of its propellers alone and flies like a drone.

“Due to its propellers, you’ll be able to poke or prod LEO with quite a lot of pressure with out really knocking the robotic over,” says Elena-Sorina Lupu (MS ’21), graduate pupil at Caltech and co-author of the Science Robotics paper. The LEO venture was began in the summertime of 2019 with the authors of the Science Robotics paper and three Caltech undergraduates who participated within the venture by way of the Institute’s Summer time Undergraduate Analysis Fellowship (SURF) program.







Credit score: California Institute of Know-how

Subsequent, the staff plans to enhance the efficiency of LEO by making a extra inflexible leg design that’s able to supporting extra of the robotic’s weight and rising the thrust pressure of the propellers. As well as, they hope to make LEO extra autonomous in order that the robotic can perceive how a lot of its weight is supported by legs and the way a lot must be supported by propellers when strolling on uneven terrain.

The researchers additionally plan to equip LEO with a newly developed drone touchdown management algorithm that makes use of deep neural networks. With a greater understanding of the atmosphere, LEO may make its personal selections about the most effective mixture of strolling, flying, or hybrid movement that it ought to use to maneuver from one place to a different based mostly on what’s most secure and what makes use of the least quantity of power.

“Proper now, LEO makes use of propellers to steadiness throughout strolling, which implies it makes use of power pretty inefficiently. We’re planning to enhance the leg design to make LEO stroll and steadiness with minimal assist of propellers,” says Lupu, who will proceed engaged on LEO all through her Ph.D. program.

In the true world, the know-how designed for LEO may foster the event of adaptive touchdown gear methods composed of managed leg joints for aerial robots and different sorts of flying automobiles. The staff envisions that future Mars rotorcraft may very well be geared up with legged touchdown gear in order that the physique steadiness of those aerial robots will be maintained as they land on sloped or uneven terrains, thereby lowering the danger of failure below difficult touchdown circumstances.


Some robots stroll. Others fly. He constructed one that may do each.


Extra data:
Kyunam Kim et al, A bipedal strolling robotic that may fly, slackline, and skateboard. Science Robotics (2021). DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.abf8136

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