Office for Technology Commercialization

Transforming Air-Ground Miniature Robots

Technology #z09171

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Air-ground Mobile Robot Unmanned Helicopter Flying Robot FormMiniature Robot in Ground-Mode
Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, PhD
Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, College of Science and Engineering
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Kevin Nickels
Technology Licensing Officer 612-625-7289
Patent Protection

Miniature Robotic Vehicle with Ground and Flight Capability

US Patent US8342440

Transforming Air-Ground Miniature Robots

Air-Ground Miniature Robots Increase Range

The miniature robots combine the best qualities of air and ground based robots into a compact mobile robot that can transform between rolling over the ground and flying short distances. Ground-based robots are typically limited by their inability to get over grass, sand, rocks, and other obstacles, while air-based robots oftentimes have a short range due to their limited battery lives.

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Mobile Robot Combines a Ground and Flying Robot in One

These miniature robots sport a folding rotor design with a moveable support member that allows the robotic platform to prop itself on one end to orient the platform to function as an unmanned helicopter robot. The process can be reversed to return to two-wheeled ground-based locomotion in a cylindrical design. The conversion time takes approximately 3 seconds. The robot can operate in ground-mode to conserve power and take flight only when faced with obstacles. The result is approximately 3-4 hours of battery life in ground-mode and 10 minutes in air-mode.The transforming air-ground miniature robots have applications in search and rescue, security and as military robots where its small size would be advantageous.


  • Low cost, small, unmanned ground-based miniature robot with the ability to fly short distances
  • Uses in military, emergency responders, government, private industry security organizations
  • Air to ground feature greatly improves mobility on rough terrain by allowing the mini robot to take the form of a unmanned helicopter robot
  • Small size and low weight makes the mini robot highly portable
  • Rugged design allows for deployment where the miniature robot may need to be thrown into a hostile situation