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A drone that can walk home

Creepy-crawly wings are a real drag

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Here's a neat-but-creepy way to get an aerial drone to move at ground level: teach it to walk on its wings.

That's what researchers from Switzerland's Lausanne Polytech are showing off: in the air, their prototype drone is a straightforward and familiar configuration, with a rear-facing propeller. On the ground, however, the wings become something special.

While an undercarriage is an easy and familiar way for aircraft to move around at ground level, wheels have problems. Extra structures add weight to the drone, and wheels don't work on rough terrain.

Instead, EPFL's DALER – Deployable Air Land Exploration Robot – has the wings mounted on shafts that can either be locked or rotated. On the ground, the drone can manage 0.2 metres per second and the researchers say it can handle high obstacles and rough terrain.

El Reg is also impressed by the strength of the drone. The moment in the video below when it hits the ground (around the 56-second mark) looked like a pretty hard landing. ®

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