Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have developed a remarkable drone aircraft that can also walk on land using only its wings for locomotion. Named DALER, a backronym standing for Deployable Air Land Exploration Robot, the robot is named after creator Ludovic Daler of the EPFL's Laboratory of Intelligent Systems.
Walk may be too strong a term for DALER's territorial comings and goings. It gets about on the ground by rotating its wings as whegs (or wheels-cum-legs) in a rather endearing gait reminiscent of sea turtles on the beach. In fact, DALER is capable of more different gaits, depending on whether the whegs rotate parallel to each other or not.
NEW ATLAS NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT
Upgrade to a Plus subscription today, and read the site without ads.
It's just US$19 a year.UPGRADE NOW
Though DALER is capable of traversing different types of terrain, its maximum speed is 0.2 m/s (0.4 mph). It can turn at a rate of 25º per second by rotating its wings in opposite directions.
The advantage of the system is that land-based travel is achieved without adding weight (in the form of additional legs, for example) that could compromise the flight capabilities of the robot.
DALER is deployed with a frisbee-style throw. In flight the wings lock into place to keep the airframe good and rigid. It appears to be a nimble little flyer, powered by a single propeller.
You can see the first prototype of DALER in action in the video below. D'awwwww.