The HyTAQ Robot (Hybrid Terrestrial and Aerial Quadrotor) was developed in the IIT Robotics Lab by Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Matthew Spenko and PhD candidate Arash Kalantari. The novel mobile robot is capable of both aerial and terrestrial locomotion. Flight is achieved through a quadrotor configuration; four actuators provide the required thrust. Adding a rolling cage to the quadrotor makes terrestrial locomotion possible using the same actuator set and control system. Thus, neither the mass nor the system complexity is increased by inclusion of separate actuators for terrestrial and aerial locomotion.
During terrestrial locomotion, the robot only needs to overcome rolling resistance and consumes much less energy compared to the aerial mode. This solves one of the most vexing problems of quadrotors and rotorcraft in general — their short operation time. Experimental results show that the hybrid robot can travel a distance 4 times greater and operate almost 6 times longer than a aerial only system. It also solves one of the most challenging problems in terrestrial robot design — obstacle avoidance. When an obstacle is encountered, the system simply flies over it.
IIT will host the Annual Illinois State Championship for the FIRST Tech Challenge program on Saturday, December 8 in Hermann Hall, where Spenko will serve as chief judge.