Caltech LEONARDO Combines Propeller and Bipedal Technology to Tackle Extreme Terrain

Recently, scientists have made a breakthrough in bipedal robot construction. A machine that can efficiently walk on its two legs may open up a new platform for explorations.

Meet the revolutionary Caltech’s LEONARDO. This bipedal robot integrates a set of propellers to walk, fly, and even ride a skateboard.

LEONARDO uses 4 propellers to lift up this nimble robot for short distances and bypass extreme terrains. The feature also provides stability for this machine. At a glance, the way this robot walks may look slightly odd. However, with those propellers, its ability to balance itself is unquestionable.

As a bipedal robot, LEONARDO comes with two legs that include 3 actuated joints. This robot can walk like a human, albeit in smaller strides. After all, this machine is only 2.5 feet tall.


It will remind you a little bit of a child that just learned how to walk. Nevertheless, it contains sophisticated technology that allows it to perform complex movements.

LEONARDO is the first robot that combines bipedal mechanization and rotor blades propulsion to achieve balance and stability. The rotors allow the machine to stand upright and the movement of its joints lets this robot shift its center of gravity.


The name of LEONARDO itself is an abbreviation of Legs Onboard Drone.  Unlike a regular drone that always hovers around, this robot uses its leg to explore the ground for closer examination. When the machine activates the propellers, you will be reminded of humans using jet-pack.

The propellers provide LEONARDO with the ability to perform tasks that require a delicate balance.

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It can hop around, tip-toeing on a rope, skateboarding, balancing against powerful winds, and more! This robot will not fall down even when stumbling because the rotors will get it back upright.

The scientists from Caltech take inspiration from birds. The creature moves by flying and walking, and LEONARDO tries to emulate this complex behavior.


Ultimately, the inventors are trying to understand this dynamic hybrid locomotion, the combination of flying and walking and apply it to real-world problems.

Humans, as bipedal creatures, can traverse and scale landscapes that may be impossible for wheels. LEONARDO that imitates the way humans walk on two legs can also tackle complex obstacles.


The ability to fly makes this robot even more perfect as it can skip over impossible hurdles. Furthermore, the legs of LEONARDO allow this robot to land on uneven terrains. The joints will balance the landing process.

Imagine sending this robot to study the mountains of Mars. It can closely investigate the contour or rock formations in difficult places. There are various scenarios where the bipedal LEONARDO can help us understand our vast universe.

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