Meet LEONARDO, the skateboarding, flying, tightrope-walking robot!

Engineers at Caltech have made a bot that can (almost) do it all
LEO robot Excuse me, just a robot on a skateboard coming through! (Caltech)

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a new type of robot that combines walking with flying, making it capable of performing complex movements and cool tricks. The robot is called LEONARDO, which stands for “LEgs ONboARD DrOne”—or LEO for short. At just metre a metre (2.5 feet) and a bouncy little walk, LEO is pretty adorable if you ask us!

Check it out:

Best of both bots

LEO is hybrid of a bipedal robot (meaning a robot that walks on two legs, like a person) and a flying drone. While it has the ability to stay upright on two legs, LEO has an extra high-powered propeller on its back, which gives it additional balance. Using this complex multi-joint legs and propeller thruster combination, LEO can achieve balance and perform awesome stunts.

Maintaining this balance is key, since most other bipedal robots, such as Boston Dynamics' Atlas, have shown that they can stumble on any kind of terrain that isn’t smooth. LEO has no trouble with this. It can easily switch between walking and flying to 'hop' over anything in its way. That’s handy!

What’s next for LEO?

The Caltech team started to work on LEO in the summer of 2019, and they’re still not completely finished yet. They plan to further improve LEO’s performance by changing the leg design. And, ideally, they want the little robot to be able to carry extra weight.

Currently LEO is remote controlled by the team, but one day they’d like to create an algorithm that would let LEO make its own decisions about whether it should walk or fly to get around an object. Until then, keep on shredding LEO!

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