Updated: Jun 18, 2022
By Rafael Perez Vicente
April 19, 2022
UPDATED 12:00 PM EST
[Photo Credit: Science Robotics]
Robotics and mechanical engineering have been in the verse of study for the last couple of decades. The increasing trend of researchers and scientists to study new forms of movement to achieve the best and most efficient means of traveling has pushed scientists to develop more complex solutions for the stability and performance of intricate maneuvers. With these challenges in mind is that the group of Aerospace Engineering at Caltech University has managed to present a new innovative approach to problems such as stairs and slacklines for the present-date mechanical robots.
LEONARDO, the bipedal robot has shown great potential in areas such as traveling in difficult terrains and overcoming obstacles that require further abilities than those currently available for two-legged robots. The legs onboard the drone are able to walk in two feet like many other robots but with an increased sense of stability: propellers and thrusters allow it to maintain a nearly perfect balance. This piece of mechanical machinery is about 2.5 feet tall and is equipped with two legs and 4 thrusters.
The team in charge of the project at Caltech states that they were looking for a different solution to complex obstacles for robots nowadays, and that LEONARDO is the first robot that truly integrates walking and flying in a way that helps it solve complex problems. Similarly, they have stated that the versatility of their robot’s movement makes it better suited for the environment where obstacles in the ground may be a problem for landing of conventional air vehicles. Engineers inside the project claim that their use of propellers not only serves as an additional feature to overcome obstacles, but also complements and perfects the walking capabilities of the robot.
Several testing environments have proven that the bipedal robot LEONARDO is not only able to walk with greater stability than almost any other robot, but it also skateboards, slacklines and jumps through tables and stairs; posing a greater versatility in terms of its abilities. Nevertheless, the students behind this project suggest that there's still a long way for LEONARDO to be a viable robot to missions or to other professional environments, and researchers have suggested that at the time, its greatest liability may be its speed and battery durability, which are elements that they have been working on.
Regardless of the path left for LEONARDO, scientists are already making speculation of how the capabilities of the bipedal robot may serve an important asset in different environments. For instance, they have suggested that the robot could be widely used in space missions due to its adaptability to its terrain and the obstacles inside it. Moreover, others have thought of applications regarding enemy camps and robotic infiltration using LEONARDO´S ability to fly over fences and trenches. Having said that, it is clear that this project is a breakthrough in mechanical and robotic engineering, and will continue to astonish those immersed in this field of study.
Aerospace Robotics and Control at Caltech. “LEONARDO: A Bipedal Walking Robot That Can Fly, Slackline, and Skateboard.” YouTube, 6 Oct. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3bkvVXsVFM.
Caltech. “Leonardo: The Skateboarding, Slacklining Robot.” YouTube, 6 Oct. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhpMlI8jb5o.
Kim, Kyunam, et al. “A Bipedal Walking Robot That Can Fly, Slackline, and Skateboard.” Science Robotics, vol. 6, no. 59, 2021. Crossref, doi:10.1126/scirobotics.abf8136.
“LEONARDO, the Bipedal Robot, Can Ride a Skateboard and Walk a Slackline.” California Institute of Technology, Caltech, 6 Oct. 2021, www.caltech.edu/about/news/leonardo-the-bipedal-robot-can-ride-a-skateboard-and-walk-a-slackline.
Veritasium. “This Robot Walks, Flies, Skateboards, Slacklines.” YouTube, 16 Oct. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1_OpWiyijU.
Vincent, James. “This Bipedal Robot Uses Propeller Arms to Slackline and Skateboard.” The Verge, The Verge, 12 Oct. 2021, www.theverge.com/2021/10/12/22722179/bipedal-robot-propeller-arms-leonardo-caltech-slackline-skateboard.