Mighty Things

For the Connected World

DARPA’s Robotic Landing Gear

How can we greatly expand the effectiveness of helicopters across many military and national security missions?

The simple answer is by providing helicopters the ability to land on and take off from a variety of rough terrains, such as irregular or moving surfaces. That’s why DARPA, the Pentagon’s research unit, is experimenting revolutionary robotic landing gear for helicopters. To put it simply, imagine a helicopter that could land with insect-like robot legs. The novel robotic landing gear can fold in flight, extracts while landing, and bends in response to variable terrain thanks to force-sensitive contact sensors in each of the four articulated, jointed automated legs.

According DARPA, this robotic adaptive system provides a tremendous amount of benefit by expanding the available landing terrain.

  • Reduced risk of damage during hard landings, by as much as a factor of five, compared to conventional landing gear;
  • Stable landing and take-off on irregular and sloping terrain;
  • Ship landings in violent sea states;

While still at the experimental stages, DARPA hopes to use this technology in the future to provide helicopter support in challenging areas such natural disaster sites, and forward operating bases which lack airfields.

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