Robotdrone LEO can walk and skateboard in addition to flying

When you combine a walking robot with a drone, what do you get? The outcome is LEO, an abbreviation for LEONARDO, which stands for LEgs ONboard. Robotdrone LEO can walk, skateboard, and even tightrope walk in addition to flying. The creators’ aim is to develop a multi-deployable robot drone that can be utilized for a variety of activities, such as delivering products to difficult-to-reach places.

Robotdrone LEO can walk and skateboard in addition to flying

The very best of both worlds. LEO is a well-thought-out concept. Walking robots have the benefit of being able to carry relatively large payloads, but they struggle to traverse very rugged terrain. Drones have the benefit of being able to fly in a straight path and over various barriers, but they consume a very significant quantity of energy throughout a movement. In reality, LEO blends the best of both worlds.

The drone prototype weighs slightly under seven pounds and is approximately 30″ tall. During takeoff, the legs assist in getting the drone airborne by providing a last-second push. The propellers, on the other hand, aid in maintaining balance when walking. It is even feasible to make the drone skateboard and tightrope walk in this manner.

Robotdrone Leo Can Walk And Skateboard In Addition To Flying

Nature’s inspiration for the robotdrone LEONARDO

Researchers from the Institute of Technology created LEO (Caltech). Nature was a source of inspiration for the crew.

“Think about the way birds can flutter and jump to navigate phone lines,” said Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace & Control and Dynamic Systems. “There is a complex but intriguing behavior in birds between walking and flying. We wanted to understand that and learn from it.”

The major difficulty was in developing algorithms to control the legs and propellers. Walking and flying, according to the researchers, are two distinct professions that have never been merged in robots. As a result, much study has gone into addressing a broad variety of technical issues in robotic systems that had not before been addressed.

Robotdrone Leo Can Walk And Skateboard In Addition To Flying 1

Continued development

At the moment, LEO is not especially energy-efficient: since the propellers must also continue to spin while walking, LEO uses more energy than a walking robot designed specifically for that purpose. This is due to the decision to make the legs as light as possible. The team’s primary task will therefore be to evaluate various design options and identify an optimal in each area.

First, the team intends to enhance LEO’s performance by developing a stronger leg design capable of bearing more of the robot’s weight and boosting propeller thrust. Furthermore, they want to make LEO more autonomous so that it can comprehend how much of its weight should be carried by legs and how much by propellers while walking on uneven ground.


The concept is that a robot drone, such as LEO, will ultimately be utilized to conduct inspections in difficult-to-reach areas. LEO may also help in the event of a calamity, such as a natural catastrophe. A walking drone may be used to explore moons and planets in the far future, beginning with Mars.

What do you think about the robotdrone Leonardo? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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This article first appeared on Dronewatch and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

Image courtesy of Caltech

Wiebe de Jager
Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager (@wdejager) is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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