If takeoffs and landings are the trickiest parts of flight, then landing at sea, especially in choppy weather, is quite possibly the hardest landing this side of space. One way to improve the outcome of landings at sea is to give pilots more training and experience. Another, explored by DARPA, is to change how the vehicle itself lands. What if, instead of using fixed, rigid landing gear, a helicopter could land on flexible legs? Here’s how the concept behind DARPA’s Mission Adaptive Rotor program is supposed to work:
And here’s how it actually lands, on an unmanned helicopter:
Flexible legs mean even when it lands on an uneven surface, the helicopter is stable. In flight, these robot legs fold up alongside the copter’s body, giving the appearance of an oversized insect. here’s how DARPA describes the breakthrough:
Helicopters with legs like this could land on grades of up to 20 degrees, as well as rough, boulder-strewn terrain. For just a little extra weight on the copter, it gives them a real leg up in landing.
Watch the full video below: