DARPA replaces standard landing gear, with a robotic one, consisting of four articulated, jointed automated legs, that are able to bend and fold up next to the helicopter’s fuselage while in flight.
Robotic Landing Gear developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology with funding from DARPA’s Mission Adaptive Rotor (MAR) program.
Each leg has an integrated force-sensitive contact sensor in its foot. During landing, each leg extends and uses the sensor to decide in real time the right angle to assume to make sure that the helicopter stays level without risking the rotor touching the landing area.
Having the ability to land on and take off from angled, irregular and moving surfaces would greatly expand the effectiveness of helicopters across many military and national security missions.
Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager, said:
“The equipment—mounted on an otherwise unmodified, unmanned helicopter—successfully demonstrated the ability to land and take off from terrain that would be impossible to operate from with standard landing gear.”