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Tiny Little Multi-Modal Picobug Walks, Flies, Grabs Stuff

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The Picobug robot.

A newly developed robot called the Picobug can walk and fly, and soon will be able to grasp things.

Credit: GRASP Lab

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP Laboratory have designed a robot called Picobug that can fly and walk, and soon will be able to grab things.

Most of the robot consists of a 22-gram Dragonfly picoquadrotor with a custom autopilot program, and underneath is an eight-footed, symmetrical adaptation of the University of California, Berkeley's DASH robot.

Picobug can fly with a top speed of six meters a second, crawl at up to 0.16 meters a second on a flat surface, and is more than twice as efficient while toddling along on the ground. The robot uses 10.6 watts of power while hovering and 0.6 watts of power while crawling, resulting in a flight time of 10 minutes and a crawl time of 45 minutes. Picobug also can hop into the air to jump over obstacles or rough terrain. Crawling is best for delicate positioning on the ground, and using flying and crawling at the same time might be the best way to travel through tight spaces.

The researchers say a gripper mechanism would make the robot even more functional. They envision a swarm of Picobugs, each with a different attachment, working together to accomplish tasks.

From IEEE Spectrum
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