Researchers have developed an all-rounder drone that can drive on tough terrain, squeeze into tight spaces and fly like a quadcopter. A first of its kind car-like robot drone is called the hybrid FSTAR (flying sprawl-tuned autonomous robot).
The hybrid FSTAR is created by researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel. One of the main highlights of the hybrid FSTAR, it can fly over obstacles or run underneath them.
The sprawl adjusts from a flat configuration to 55 degrees and it allows the robot to transform its movement from a flying quadcopter to a car-like robot, according to researchers.
The sprawl also adjusts its width to crawl or run on flat surfaces. It can climb over large obstacles and up closely-spaced walls or squeeze through a tunnel, pipe or narrow gaps, researchers said.
"We plan to develop larger and smaller versions to expand this family of sprawling robots for different applications, as well as algorithms that will help exploit speed and cost of transport for these flying/driving robots," said David Zarrouk, a senior lecturer at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
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The hybrid FSTAR can run on the ground at a speed of up to 2.6 metres per second. That kind of speed combined with low energy consumption courtesy of the same motors makes FSTAR ideal for a broad range of applications that may require longer work time.
What are the commercial use cases of The hybrid FSTAR?
Possible commercial uses are package deliveries since it can quickly fly to a target zone and then drive using its wheels safely and quietly to reach the recipient's doorstep. The robot can also be used in agriculture, maintenance, cleaning, filming, and entertainment, as well as law enforcement and anti-terrorist applications.
The hybrid FSTAR can also be used for search and rescue applications as it can fly over various obstacles and crawl between or underneath cracks where a regular drone cannot fly.
(With agency inputs)