Morgan Harmon with the FalconX transforming quadcopter.
We envision the next-generation of small-scale hybrid vehicles to be transforming systems, which can perform both aerial and ground modes of locomotion by morphing their configuration while using the same actuation system. Also, morphing from one mode of locomotion to another should be achieved in a relatively simple/robust manner.
We have designed and built an innovative air/ground transformer robot, which operates as a quad-rotor in the flying mode, and for ground locomotion, once landed, uses two servo actuators to tilt the rotors 90 degrees, so that they act as wheels. Such a ground vehicle could be ideal because independent rpm control for each of the wheels along with the ability to reverse the direction of rotation, could give them superior agility. The platform is envisioned to operate like a ground robot for most part of the mission and only fly when absolutely required. Such multi-modal locomotion capability can not only improve stealth, but also significantly increase mission endurance because ground locomotion requires only a fraction of the power needed for flying.