DALER drone based on a vampire bat can fly and walk

January 27, 2015

If robots drones were able to not only fly but also walk on the ground then they would be more useful than ever and they would be able to operate in more areas. But of course, if wheels have to be added on then weight is added. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have now designed a drone that is based on the vampire bat and uses the tips of its wings to walk on.

[Image Source: EPFL]

DALER stands for the Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot drone and it has what the researchers call “whegs”, wings and legs. The researchers studied vampire bat behaviour and then went ahead and made a wing that was covered with soft fabric which could be folded into a smaller space when the drone is on the ground and then able to rotate on a hinge which attaches the whegs to the body of the drone. The retractable and deformable wing can solve the issues drones have when trying to move on the ground.

dalar-4[Image Source: EPFL]

The designer of the DALER drone said that the design took inspiration from the vampire bat, which is capable of performing aerial along with terrestrial locomotion with trade-offs that are limited. A lot of experimentation was needed to find the ideal distance of the centre of mass of the drone and axis of rotation of the wingerons. Once they had they could improve energy efficiency. The DALER is able to fly at around 45mph through the air and travel at around 2.5 inches per second on the ground, the maximum step distance is around 2.5 inches.

[Image Source: EPFL]

The DALER drone would be more versatile in situations such as locating survivors after a disaster. It could be deployed to the area in the air where it would fly around to access damage and it could then land and walk if needed to locate victims. The researchers are now working on making the drone hover and giving it the ability to be able to take off on its own following completion of a mission and make its way back to base.


[Image Source: EPFL]