DARPA has developed automated, robotic technology that will allow helicopters to land in places they’ve never been able to land before.
Helicopters are prized for their ability to maneuver in air with ease but are beset by the fact that their landing gear requires a fairly level surface to set down upon.
The U.S. government is aiming to remove that helicopter handicap through the development of robotic landing gear.
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently demonstrated the robotic system developed under the Mission Adaptive Rotor program.
The gear works through the use of self-articulating legs that expand and feel for the ground as the helicopter lands. In flight, the legs contract up next to the fuselage.
The foot of each jointed leg is equipped with a sensor to automatically determine the proper angle needed in order to keep the helicopter as level and secure as possible while touching down.
The robotic gear could allow helicopters to land on rough and slanted terrains that were previously out of reach—and make the difficult task of settling on moving surfaces less risky.