Caltech’s new ‘Morphobot’ is a little transforming robot that can walk, drive, and fly

The robot is packed with electronics, motors, and a small computer that lets it decide what form it should take to get around. The team that made it gave the M4 large wheels that can, in seconds, swing up to become something more akin to a drone’s rotors and fly. It can also use its rotors to help it up a steep slope while the back wheels drive it forward from the ground, as described in a paper in Nature Communications. Alternatively, if the robot needs to get across a particularly rough patch of ground or needs a better view of what’s ahead, it can stand up on two wheels and use them more like feet.

The M4 was designed by Mory Gharib, a professor of aeronautics and bioinspired engineering at Caltech, in partnership with Alireza Ramezani, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern University.