Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) researchers have developed the Hybrid Terrestrial and Aerial Quadrotator (HyTAQ), a robotic vehicle that can move on land and through the air. The crash-proof device acts like a wheel when it is on the ground, in indoor and outdoor environments. During terrestrial locomotion, the robotic device only needs to overcome rolling resistance and consumes much less energy compared to the aerial mode. Tests show that the device can travel four times more and operate almost six times longer than an aerial-only machine.
"This solves one of the most vexing problems of quadrotors and rotorcraft in general — their short operation time," according to the IIT researchers. "It also solves one of the most challenging problems in terrestrial robot design — obstacle avoidance. When an obstacle is encountered, the system simply flies over it."
The researchers note that HyTAQ moves seamlessly from ground to air and back again. In addition, the rolling cage makes terrestrial locomotion possible using the same actuator set and control system.
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