Humanoid robots have come a long, long way since Honda’s Asimo took a nasty tumble down the stairs. Heck, we’re seeing full gymnastics routines from the Boston Dynamics Atlas now.
But why should robots be limited by their legs, even if that’s their primary propulsion? That’s a question Caltech is toying with on its new LEONARDO robot, short for “LEgs ONboARD drOne,” and this is the first real video of it in action (via BoingBoing).
Simply put, it’s a relatively lightweight walking robot that balances more like a drone than a typical bipedal bot — because it’s literally got a set of drone propellers instead of arms. (It reminds us of this University of Tokyo bot with a quadcopter for a head.) Perhaps it’s not as impressive as Disney’s flying robotic stuntmen, but how often do you see a robot ballerina stand on one leg and twirl?
You can read more about the bot in stories at IEEE Spectrum and Wired from earlier this year, including how the researchers expect those thrusters might eventually help it do a whole bunch of jumping — perhaps even on Mars.