See a flying, walking bipedal robot tackle a slackline and skateboard Don't let this feed into your unfounded fears of some silly robot apocalypse.

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Don’t let this feed into your unfounded fear of some silly robot apocalypse.

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The LEO robot can handle a dull line thanks to a combination of legs and drone-like propellers.


It’s a good thing we’re not living in some science-fiction dystopia where sentient robots are out to get us. Instead, let’s focus on the real achievements of Leonardo, a bipedal robot with a unique way of moving around.

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Leonardo stands for “Legs Onboard Drone,” but you can see it abbreviated as LEO. LEO is the creation of Caltech researchers, who were inspired by how birds could flap their wings and jump and walk with their feet. The robot is able to overcome tricky tricks like running on slacklines and riding a skateboard.

“LEO is the first robot that uses multi-joint legs and propeller-based thrusters to achieve a good degree of control over its balance,” Caltech said in a statement Wednesday. The university shared a video where LEO shows how it blurs the lines between human-like robots and drones.

The Caltech team published a paper on the robot today in the journal Science Robotics. The versatility of the LEO means it can call on its walking prowess, its flight ability, or a combination of both depending on the terrain and its goals. Caltech described LEO as an “amazing balance.”

after watching Disturbing videos from Boston Dynamics flaunting its own robot creations, you might wonder how LEO will react. “Because of its propeller, you can strike or prod the LEO with a lot of force without actually knocking the robot over,” said paper co-author Elena-Sorina Lupu.

Researchers are already looking at ways to make LEO more energy efficient by upgrading the leg design to rely less on the propeller for balance while running. The team is also working on making it more autonomous so that it can assess its environment and decide how to navigate it.

The robotics team sees a possible future for this technology on Mars, where it could represent a new generation of rotorcraft. Will build on the success of the concept NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter. Imagine ingenuity with feet, able to land safely on uneven terrain. LEO, Interplanetary Explorer? It can be possible.

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