Four-legged bot uses drone sidekick to avoid rough terrain

Even with a sure-stepping robot like DARPA’s Big Dog, there is still plenty of terrain that today’s packbots simply can’t handle. That’s why a team of researchers from ETH Zurich’s Autonomous Systems Lab has devised a way to ensure these robots never get bogged down by impassible terrain: pair that packbot with a forward-scouting UAV.

The mechanical pair are designed to cooperate with one another to map and navigate changing terrain. The UAV first flies ahead and creates a rough map of the area, including relative elevations. It then shares that data with the walking robot, which determines the most efficient route to take. The packbot also employs a laser rangefinder to continually update its elevation map and ensure that every step it takes is sure-footed. The team’s study, “Collaborative Navigation for Flying and Walking Robots” is currently under peer review ahead of the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.

source: engadget.com by Andrew Tarantola

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