Humanoid flying robots that can repair tall buildings could soon take to the air using Iron Man-style jet packs

Flying robots could soon take to the skies, thanks to a new Iron Man-style jet propulsion system designed by Italian engineers.

The plans would see thrusters attached to the hands and feet of an iCub humanoid robot, which previously hit headlines for its baby-faced appearance.

This would allow the droids, which stand at a diminutive 3.4 feet (104 cm) tall, to adjust their flight path at superhuman speeds.

The jet packs could allow repair bots to reach hard to access areas, as well as providing a test-bed for exoskeletons designed to allow human flight.

Flying robots could soon take to the skies, thanks to a new Iron Man style jet propulsion system being designed by Italian engineers. Researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology have outlined the initial phases of their scheme (pictured)

Flying robots could soon take to the skies, thanks to a new Iron Man style jet propulsion system being designed by Italian engineers. Researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology have outlined the initial phases of their scheme (pictured)

THE ICUB ROBOT

iCub, has been under development for more than a decade.

It is motivated by goals and can express six emotions on its face, including raising its eyebrows and generating a light-up smile.

It was originally created by the IIT as part of the eFAA Project.

Over the years, it’s been refined to be able to crawl, walk and dance to music, manipulate objects in its hands, speak and express emotions.

In November 2016, researchers announced a £3million ($3.7m) project to develop robots which can learn like a child.

The team, based at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the Italian National Research Council (ISTC-CNR) in Rome are using the iCub robot as there hardware.

They hope to equip the robots with AI software that will will generate an artificial sense of curiosity which will help them to teach themselves about the world.

Researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa outlined the initial phase of their scheme in a paper published on the online e-print repository Arxiv.org.

A similar design was successfully demonstrated by British inventor Richard Browning back in April.

But a robot could take the technology to the next level, using its processing power to calculate the adjustments necessary to realise the full potential of the jet thrusters.

The Italian team are still working at the theoretical stage, but they hope to put their findings into practice in the near future.

Speaking to IEEE Spectrum, lead author Daniele Pucci said: ‘I came up with the idea four years ago, when I first arrived at IIT.

‘I truly believe that aerial humanoid robotics can be used as a test-bed for actuated flying exoskeletons for human beings.

‘The recent successful story of Richard Browning shows the engineering feasibility of these futuristic actuated exoskeletons.

‘We have invited Browning to IIT to discuss actuated flying exoskeletons, and he’s excited about our work on flying humanoid robots.

‘However, the journey in front of us is still long, and we can use flying humanoid robots to boost this journey and avoid lots of tests on humans.’

Mr Browning’s suit combines body mounted miniaturised jet-engines, with a specially designed exo-skeletal suit, allowing the pilot to vertically take off and fly using the human body to control the flight.

Four arm-mounted gas turbine engines and two hip-mounted gas turbine engines provide enough lift to enable a person capable of holding their body weight for long periods of time to fly.

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