Autonomous Rolling-Flying Robot For Exploring Rough Terrain

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This new autonomous robot can go into extremely tricky spaces and may replace humans in life endangering jobs.

Revolute Robotics is a student-founded startup from Arizona that built the Hybrid Mobility Robot (HMR) – a fully autonomous robot that can roll to its destination and even fly over obstacles.

The idea for the robot is to automate inspections in confined spaces, like those on oil rigs or in deep mineshafts.  These tasks hold a high safety risk for the humans performing them, and sometimes operations are halted, and inspections can go on for weeks which adds to costs for the business.

According to Interesting Engineering, this solution by Revolute Robotics’ is an autonomous robot that can roll in any direction using a pair of gyroscopic gimbal rings. If faced with an obstacle, or just in need to reach an inaccessible zone during an inspection, it can simply switch on its four propellers and fly.

The robot also has a camera or sensor that can be switched depending on the need, and the entire thing sits inside a lightweight exoskeleton that is strong enough to absorb shocks from falls or bounces on rough terrain. And before you ask, it can also cover the propellers so it could work near humans without endangering them.

The robot can also be used for search and rescue missions, in which a swarm can be sent instead of a single robot to improve efficiency. Another use could be for security purposes, like inspecting a suspicious item or patrolling a large perimeter. As with most bot technology, it could also be used by the military in contested environments for reconnaissance missions.

Although the bots are currently quite large, the company claims they can be shrunken down for civil applications like inspecting pipelines for example.

So hopefully in the near future, with a fully autonomous operation, the robot operator could just release it, and it will roll around using its gimbal rings until the mission objective is complete.