Helicopters are a go-to resource when attempting to get to combat zones or natural disaster areas, but they have one major design flaw: they can only land on flat surfaces.
So DARPA worked with the Georgia Institute of Technology to equip helicopters with the right technology to land in tough-to-reach spots. Their solution? Robotic legs inspired by those of dragonflies.
The robotic legs fold up and against the body of the helicopter during flight (similar to how dragonflies fly), but when the helicopter is ready to land, the four legs spring outward.
The legs will bend to ensure the helicopter can land on any kind of terrain.
Here’s a closer look at DARPA’s robo-legged helicopter in action.
The robotic legs give the helicopter more flexibility by allowing it to sway side-to-side and back-and-forth. This helps with balance when the chopper is landing on uneven terrain.
Each leg has a force-sensitive contact sensor in its foot, allowing the legs to determine how to bend to best support the helicopter while landing.
When the helicopter is in flight, the legs fold against the helicopter's body (known as the fuselage) so that it remains aerodynamic.
This rendering shows how the legs could make it easier for helicopters to land on naval boats in rough conditions.
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