Whether you think it's cool or intimidating, robots are becoming increasingly nimble - and LEONARDO from Caltech looks like one of the nimblest examples. LEO walks on two legs, jumps and flies, can balance on a rope and even ride a skateboard.
Most robots are limited to one type of movement - they can either fly, swim, walk or drive on the ground. But bots may have a better chance of overcoming obstacles if they combine multiple modes of movement, and LEONARDO looks like an elegant (and rather creepy) example of those capabilities.
Standing about 80 centimeters tall, LEO walks on his spindly three-jointed legs like a chicken in high heels. His exceptional balancing skills are provided by the four propellers on his shoulders, which not only help correct his position, but also allow him to take to the skies to jump over uneven terrain, stairs and other obstacles.
These mixed motion modes give LEO several advantages over choosing one or the other. Its propellers give it better balance than a biped robot normally has, and its legs take the load off the propellers, supporting most of the weight.
In fact, the only thing about the robot that looks awkward is its name. LEONARDO stands for "LEgs ONboARD drOne," which reads almost like sarcasm. If you want to call your cool robot "Leonardo," you can just do it without pretending it's an acronym.
In the two years since it was first introduced, LEONARDO has gone from being tethered in the lab to walking and flying outside, and has mastered two nifty tricks that demonstrate its dexterity. The team got the robot to walk a tightrope without falling, and it was even able to ride a skateboard through traffic cones - tasks that many humans would struggle to do, let alone other robots.
Source: science.org, newatlas