Illinois robotics lab's HyTAQ moves in air, rolls on land (w/ video)

Nov 30, 2012 by Nancy Owano report

(—Quadrotors that can not only successfully fly in the air but can also roll along on the ground represent the kind of exercise that moves researchers at the Robotics Lab at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), which is part of the Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering Department. Engineers there have developed a vehicle that indeed can move on land and air. The IIT 's research is centered on robotics, working toward a better understanding of how mobile systems may perform in challenging environments, including terrain interactions. Their HyTAQ (Hybrid Terrestrial and Aerial Quadrotor) has four rotors for flying but is also surrounded by a cylindrical cage constructed from polycarbonate and carbon fiber.

The crash-proof device acts like a wheel when it's on the ground, as well as a , and it can avoid banging into walls. The cage can roll freely; the HyTAQ engineers said that the device works well in indoor and outdoor environments even when wind gusts prohibit successful aerial locomotion.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

The team highlighted the difference between HyTAQ and aerial-only devices, saying that the HyTAQ is more energy-efficient. During terrestrial locomotion, the robot only needs to overcome rolling resistance and consumes much less energy compared to the aerial mode. Their experiments showed that it 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 in general—their short operation time," they said.

HyTAQ moves seamlessly from ground to air and back again "It also solves one of the most challenging problems in terrestrial —obstacle avoidance. When an obstacle is encountered, the system simply flies over it."

Another success factor in its design, they said, was indeed the cage."Adding a rolling cage to the quadrotor makes terrestrial locomotion possible using the same set and control system."

Doctoral candidate Arash Kalantari and Prof. Matthew Spenko are the two researchers behind the HyTAQ robot. Earlier this year, Kalantari won the June 2012 Innovation award from the Boca Bearing Company's Innovation Contest. The award-winning device had features that indicate Kalantari and Spenko would go in this HyTAQ direction. Kalantari's Walking Quadrotor Aerial Vehicle was the showcased winner, described as a hybrid robot capable of both aerial and terrestrial locomotion. "A unique compliant mechanism design makes it possible to use a single actuator set for both walking and flying. This is advantageous because it reduces both the total weight of the system and the control system complexity," he said. Four brushless DC motors provided the required thrust for flying. He said his goal in building the walking quadrotor aerial device lay in his effort "to increase the functionality of a well-known flying mechanism (quadrotor) without adding any primary actuator to the system and by just using the same system actuators."

Explore further: A robot dives into search for Malaysian Airlines flight

More information:

Related Stories

Flying machines are YouTube sensation

Mar 22, 2011

( -- The latest YouTube sensation isn’t a puppy that dances to Lady Gaga or a kitten that opens beer bottles. By using unmanned aerial vehicles called quadrotors, two Ph.D. candidates at the ...

Bird-like robot perches on a human hand (w/ Video)

May 03, 2012

( -- Among the many challenges of designing flying robots is getting them to land gracefully. By taking a cue from birds, a team of engineers has developed a flapping-wing flying robot that can land ...

Recommended for you

A robot dives into search for Malaysian Airlines flight

Apr 18, 2014

In the hunt for signs of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370—which disappeared on March 8 after deviating for unknown reasons from its scheduled flight path—all eyes today turn to a company that got its start ...

Simplicity is key to co-operative robots

Apr 16, 2014

A way of making hundreds—or even thousands—of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks without using any memory or processing power has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Students turn $250 wheelchair into geo-positioning robot

Apr 16, 2014

Talk about your Craigslist finds! A team of student employees at The University of Alabama in Huntsville's Systems Management and Production Center (SMAP) combined inspiration with innovation to make a $250 ...

Using robots to study evolution

Apr 14, 2014

A new paper by OIST's Neural Computation Unit has demonstrated the usefulness of robots in studying evolution. Published in PLOS ONE, Stefan Elfwing, a researcher in Professor Kenji Doya's Unit, has succes ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 30, 2012
That's some great engineering work!
5 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2012
This is brilliant!

Think of realistic uses for this.

I figure land/ice surveys in the Arctic and Antarctic.
not rated yet Nov 30, 2012
Wonderful work of imagination! Now, couldn't this concept be somehow scaled up into a human-carrying vehicle, such as a personal flying car for everyday use? It would certainly reduce the need for so many highways and roads.
not rated yet Dec 01, 2012
Why a robot? A ballast tail should suffice. Make ballast the battery. That would obstruct the roll cage, but would prove the computer redundant and a useless weight.

I doubt this unit has a price below the $100 needed for off-the-shelf radio control parts.

More news stories

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

( —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...