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Latest News

$10M in private support will fund new robotics labs

June 21, 2017

Work will begin this winter on renovating the first two floors of Shepherd Laboratories building for robotics research, thanks to $10M in private support.
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Lab Featured in RCJudge

May 11, 2017

Dr. Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, is the director of the Center for Distributed Robotics in Minnesota. He along with several others work on specialized robots which can adapt to their surroundings...
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SUAV:Q featured in New Scientist

February 24, 2017

A shape-shifting drone takes off like a helicopter and transforms into a plane in mid-air to fly all day on solar power. The drone is designed to provide affordable aerial surveys for farmers, so they can see where to irrigate and use fertiliser and herbicide only where needed.
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Lab Director Awarded McKnight Professorship

August 22, 2016

Department of Computer Science and Engineering Professor Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos has been awarded the prestigious McKnight Presidential Professorship by University President Eric Kaler. The professorship is among the highest honors for faculty at the University.
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UMN listed among the top 20 robotics engineering schools

April 25, 2016

The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities has been identified as having one of the top robotics engineering schools in the United States for 2016.
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The Hybrid

The Hybrid robot was developed with obstacle scaling in mind. It is loosely based on the two-wheeled Scout line of robots, but with the addition of a rotary-wing flight mode. This makes it a two-wheeled ground robot that transforms into a helicopter. The flight mode utilizes two coaxial, counter-rotating rotors. A stabilizer bar linked to the upper rotor rejects disturbances and improves controllability.

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Further Description

Miniature ground robots often encounter impassable obstacles due to a mismatch between the size of the robots and the scale of the objects in their mission environment. For instance, robots operating in urban environments may frequently come across stairs. Larger robots can typically scale stairs without issue, but for robots lower on the size spectrum, similar performance is much more difficult to achieve.

The Hybrid robot was developed with obstacle scaling in mind. It is loosely based on the two-wheeled Scout line of robots, but with the addition of a rotary-wing flight mode. This makes it a two-wheeled ground robot that transforms into a helicopter. The flight mode utilizes two coaxial, counter-rotating rotors. A stabilizer bar linked to the upper rotor rejects disturbances and improves controllability.

In the ground mode, the rotors and stabilizer bar used for flight are folded down along the length of the robot’s body. It transforms into its flight mode by positioning itself on-end, with its long axis oriented vertically rather than horizontally, and unfolding its flight mechanisms. The rotors are attached to the rotor heads close to the drive shafts by passive hinges and thus unfold as the shafts begin to spin.

The robot is primarily meant for use on the ground; the intent of the flight mode is to move the robot over obstacles, across rough terrain, into open windows, etc.

Publications

Alex Kossett and Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos "A Robust Miniature Robot Design for Land/Air Hybrid Locomotion" IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2011

Alex Kossett, Ruben D'Sa, Jesse Purvey, and Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos "Design of an Improved Land/Air Miniature Robot" IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2010

Alex Kossett, Jesse Purvey, and Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos "More Than Meets the Eye: A Hybrid-Locomotion Robot with Rotary Flight and Wheel Modes" IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) 2009

Sam D. Herbert, Andrew Drenner, and Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, "Loper: A Quadruped-Hybrid Stair Climbing Robot" Proceedings of the 2008 IEEE Conference on Robotics and Automation, Pasadena, CA, May 19-23, 2008