Few robots can travel gracefully through more than one medium; more often than not, they're either strictly airborne or tied to the ground. The Illinois Institute of Technology's HyTAQ quadrotor doesn't abide by these arbitrary limits. The hybrid machine, designed by Arash Kalantari and Matthew Spenko, uses the same actuators to drive both its flight as well as a surrounding cage for rolling along on the ground, quickly switching between the two methods. It's clearly adaptable, but using the one system also provides large power advantages over a traditional quadrotor, Spenko tells us. While HyTAQ's battery lasts only for 5 minutes and 1,969 feet of pure flight, that jumps to 27 minutes and 7,874 feet when the robot can use a smooth floor instead -- and of course, it can hop over ground obstacles altogether instead of making a detour. The range of the robot and its pilot are the main limiting factors, but the patent process is already underway with hopes of winning commercial deals. We're both excited and worried as a result; as wonderfully flexible as HyTAQ is, widescale adoption could lead to especially relentless robots during the inevitable takeover.
Filed under: Robots