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Monday, February 12, 2018

iCub - Flying Humanoid Robot

Jet-Powered iCub
Could Be the First Flying Humanoid Robot
"Momentum Control of an Underactuated Flying Humanoid Robot"
Italian researchers are developing a control system that they hope will allow an iCub humanoid robot to hover on four jet thrusters

By Evan Ackerman
Science fiction is full of robotic systems that can fly. Whether they’re humanoid robots or robotic exoskeletons, all it seems to take to turn a walking robot into a flying robot is some thrusters attached to the hands and feet, and just like Iron Man, off you go. The reason that science fiction is full of this kind of thing is because it’s tremendously fun to think about this kind of thing, and you can imagine all kinds of compelling applications for it, even beyond the obligatory punching of aliens and more generalized anti-antagonist-ing.
In fact, some of these applications could be useful outside of science fiction, and researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) are working on making it a reality, by developing a system that can control an iCub humanoid robot with four jet engines attached to it.
Getting an iCub to hover and fly by installing jet engines on its hands and feet sounds a bit far-fetched. But fundamentally, this is just another sort of multimodal locomotion, except it’s applied to humanoid robots rather than the hybrid platforms that we’re more accustomed to seeing. There are plenty of robots that combine flight with other kinds of locomotion to increase efficiency and versatility, so why not apply that to humanoids? Indeed, there’s a ton of work being done right now on aerial manipulation—using drones (sometimes drones with multi-DoF arms on them) to directly interact with the world around them. Well, you know what’s great at manipulation? Humanoids! So let’s just get them airborne already!

This video animates the simulations presented in the paper “Momentum Control of an Underactuated Flying Humanoid Robot” submitted for possible publication to IEEE-RAL, and whose preprint is available on line at:

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