When it comes to robot mobility, failure to navigate obstacles can often leave a robot looking like a turtle on its back.

Surely, this notion is not lost on researchers at the Robotics Lab at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) who recently created the HyTAQ quadrotor. Designed by Arash Kalantari and Matthew Spenko, the hybrid machine's ability to both fly and roll make it one of the most fluid moving robots I've ever seen. Best of all, its design makes it nearly impossible to crash.

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Here's how IIT's promo video describes it:

The robot is composed of a cylindrical cage connected to a quadrotor connected through two revolute joints. Thus, the cage can roll freely with respect to the quadrotor body. The flexible structure of the cage, fabricated out of polycarbonate and carbon fiber makes the robot crash resistant. This simple, but arguably elegant design allows the robot to use the same actuators from both forms of locomotion. This keeps the system mass low since the robot does not need to carry the added mass of unused actuators and control electronics. During terrestrial locomotion, the robot only needs to overcome rolling resistance, therefore it is much more energy efficient than an aerial-only quadrotor.

The researchers say this solves on of the most frustrating problems of quadrotors and rotorcraft — their short operation time.

"Experimental results show that the HyTAQ can travel a distance four

times greater and operate almost six times longer than an aerial only

system," according to the team's website.

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The rearchers also tout the hybrid robot's ability to avoid obstacles.

"When an obstacle is encountered," they write, "the system simply flies over it."

via PhysOrg

credit: IIT