Researchers at Ben-Gurion University have just created the Flying STAR, the “flying sprawl-tuned autonomous robot,” based on the elementary observation that both rotors and wheels spin.
Not only can the F-STAR fly and crawl, it can roll along at up to eight feet per second using comparatively little energy while being able to leap over obstacles, scale stairs, or simply ascend and fly to a new location.
There are lots of good reasons why it’s difficult to create such a hybrid, says Prof. David Zarrouk, director of BGU’s Bio-Inspired and Medical Robotics Lab and a lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. But his team overcame those problems with the help of today’s high-powered, lightweight drone components.
Using both drones and ground-based robots for situations like disaster response has great potential, but generally these platforms either fly or creep along the ground. Not the F-STAR, which does both quite well, and through a mechanism so clever and simple you’ll wish you’d thought of it.
You can watch F-STAR fly, roll, transform, flatten, and more in the video below, prepared for presentation at the IEEE International Convention on Robotics and Automation in Montreal.
“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,” says Zarrouk.
At present, this is a mere prototype, and further work will be needed to bring it to a state where it could be useful for rescue teams, commercial operations and the military.