Video shows new robot’s skills to skateboard, slackline, and FLY

This new bipedal robot can walk, skate, and even fly!

A new bipedal robot named LEONARDO, short from LEgs ONboARD drOne, can both walk and fly. The 2021 version of the machine has been rebuilt completely from scratch, UNILAD reveals.

Leonardo was created by Caltech’s Aerospace Robotics and Control Lab. Its brand new design features battery and electronics integrated within.

Credits: Caltech

Speaking to Spectrum, Caltech’s Professor Soon-Jo Chung said:

“Creatures that have more than two locomotion modes must learn and master how to properly switch between them. Birds, for instance, undergo a complex yet intriguing behavior at the transitional interface of their two locomotion modes of flying and walking.

Similarly, the Leonardo robot uses synchronized control of distributed propeller-based thrusters and leg joints to realize smooth transitions between its flying and walking modes.”

The bipedal robot weighs 2.5 kg (5.5lbs), is 75cm (2.5ft) tall, and can fly up to 3m/s. It can perform various activities such as hopping, skateboarding, and walking on a slackline. However, when it comes to flying, its power consumption nearly doubles, which makes it less efficient.

In other words, the bot can last for three and a half minutes of walking, but only 100 seconds of flying. 

Nevertheless, Chug noted that efficiency was not the initial priority of the new model. He said:

“Achieving efficient walking with lightweight legs similar to LEO’s is still an open challenge in the field of bipedal robots, and it remains to be investigated in future work.”

Credits: Caltech

The experts are now planning to implement vision improvement and machine learning into the robot’s functionalities. They argue that “the most well-suited applications” for Leonardo would be those involving “physical interactions with structures at a high altitude, which are usually dangerous for human workers and could use robotic workers.”

Chug jokingly added:

“The ultimate form of demonstration for us will be to build two of these Leonardo robots and then have them play tennis or badminton.”

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