Tech

Watch this bipdeal bot walk a slackline and ride a skateboard

"LEONARDO" is mastering the ancient art of Skate or Die.

Mastering even one form of bipedal locomotion is a tall order for most robots, but LEONARDO, a jumping, flying, tiny robot developed by Caltech researchers, is ahead of the curve.

LEONARDO, which stands for LEgs ONboARD drOne, is a mix between bipedal bot and drone, and uses a combination of multi-joint legs and propellers to strut, fly, balance and tackle all sorts of tricky terrain.

While novel in the world of robotics, researchers say LEO is actually inspired by locomotion in the real world — specifically that of birds which use their wings and feet in tandem to hop and hover.

The idea is that LEO could use its mix of locomotive talents to avoid the pitfalls of other purely ground-based bipedal bots — in harrowing terrain, LEO would simply hover or fly. The hybrid approach also provides precision balance, enough so that LEO can successfully walk a slackline without falling.

As researchers note, LEO’s hybrid approach does come with limitations. Hovering expends a lot more energy than walking regularly and limits the bots potential payload.

While LEO is still mostly an experiment, researchers say the technology developed for the bot could have applications in adaptive landing gear for airborne robots or even in bots designed to traverse Mars. For now, however, we can just enjoy the novelty of watching a robot ride a freakin’ skateboard