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Flying, rolling robot goes just about anywhere

It’s not quite a flying car, but researchers have built a robot that flies through the air and rolls on the ground, giving it the ability to go just about anywhere and operate up to six times longer than its aerial-only cousins. Check it out in the video below.

The Hybrid Terrestrial and Aerial Quadrotor (HyTAQ) looks similar to other quadrotors, only this one is inside the kind of rolling cage a pet mouse might use to get exercise. Unlike the mouse's cage, however, the robot is made out of polycarbonate and carbon fiber, making it lightweight and crash resistant.

The innovation allows the robot to roll using the same machinery that propels it through the air, according to the engineers who built HyTAQ at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

“Neither the mass nor the system complexity is increased,” a project explanation reads. “During terrestrial locomotion, the robot only needs to overcome rolling resistance and consumes much less energy compared to the aerial mode.”

Experimental results show that HyTAQ can travel about four times further than flying-only quadrotors and operate up to six times longer. And given its flexibility in locomotion, it can more easily navigate obstacles, including traffic jams.

 — via Discovery News 

John Roach is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. To learn more about him, check out his website. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.