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A Spherical Aerial Terrestrial Robot
AuthorDudley, Christopher J.
AdvisorLeang, Kam K.
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This thesis focuses on the design of a novel, ultra-lightweight spherical aerial terrestrial robot (ATR). The ATR has the ability to fly through the air or roll on the ground, for applications that include search and rescue, mapping, surveillance, environmental sensing, and entertainment. The design centers around a micro-quadcopter encased in a lightweight spherical exoskeleton that can rotate about the quadcopter. The spherical exoskeleton offers agile ground locomotion while maintaining characteristics of a basic aerial robot in flying mode. A model of the system dynamics for both modes of locomotion is presented and utilized in simulations to generate potential trajectories for aerial and terrestrial locomotion. Details of the quadcopter and exoskeleton design and fabrication are discussed, including the robot's turning characteristic over ground and the spring-steel exoskeleton with carbon fiber axle. The capabilities of the ATR are experimentally tested and are in good agreement with model-simulated performance. An energy analysis is presented to validate the overall efficiency of the robot in both modes of locomotion. Experimentally-supported estimates show that the ATR can roll along the ground for over 12 minutes and cover the distance of 1.7 km, or it can fly for 4.82 minutes and travel 469 m, on a single 350 mAh battery. Compared to a traditional flying-only robot, the ATR traveling over the same distance in rolling mode is 2.63-times more efficient, and in flying mode the system is only 39 percent less efficient. Experimental results also demonstrate the ATR's transition from rolling to flying mode.