Jerusalem: Scientists have developed the first robot drone that can fly like a quadcopter, drive on tough terrain and squeeze into tight spaces using the same motors.
The hybrid FSTAR (flying sprawl-tuned autonomous robot), created by researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel, can fly over obstacles or run underneath them. The sprawl, which adjusts from a flat configuration to 55 degrees allows the robot to transform its movement from a flying quadcopter to a car-like robot, researchers said.
It also adjusts its width to crawl or run on flat surfaces, climb over large obstacles and up closely-spaced walls, or squeeze through a tunnel, pipe or narrow gaps, they said. "We plan to develop larger and smaller versions to expand this family of sprawling robots for different applications, as well as algorithms that will help exploit speed and cost of transport for these flying/driving robots," said David Zarrouk, a senior lecturer at BGU.
It can run on the ground at a speed of up to 2.6 metres per second. That combined with low energy consumption using the same motors makes FSTAR ideal for a broad range of applications that may require longer work time.
Possible commercial uses are package deliveries since it can quickly fly to a target zone and then drive using its wheels safely and quietly to reach the recipient's doorstep. FSTAR can also be used for search and rescue applications as it can fly over various obstacles and crawl between or underneath cracks where a regular drone cannot fly.
The robot can also be used in agriculture, maintenance, cleaning, filming, and entertainment, as well as law enforcement and anti-terrorist applications.