The Hexapod Hexacopter

Hexapod Hexacopter

Over at Mad Lab Industries, they had the idea of building a quadcopter that could walk and fly. By combining a hexapod with a hexacopter, they ended up with this creation.

The hexapod part started off with PhantomX Hexapod Kit, but it was far too heavy to fly. To reduce weight, they manufactured carbon fibre parts for the frame and legs. Even with the weight reductions, they still needed to six rotors to keep it stable.

The hexacopter part of the build uses more custom carbon fibre parts to mount the motors. The booms and mounts are also custom built out of aluminium. They used six E-Flite motors, propellers, and ESCs to provide lift.

A variety of controllers are used to run the robot. Two Arbotix devices handle the hexapod control, and a Hoverfly flight controller keeps it in the air. It’s controlled remotely using a Spektrum controller.

They have some ambitious next steps, including a mechanism that disconnects and reconnects the hexacopter and the base. After the break, check out a video of this impressive build in action.

33 thoughts on “The Hexapod Hexacopter

      1. Me too. I can imagine it chittering menacingly. Though at the same time it’s kind of endearing, like a big silly beetle.

  1. It would be nice to combine the two more closely. Maybe use the props as feet or vice versa. Basically generally reduce the overall hardware by making it multi-purpose. Even if you just put the props on the legs to do away with their support spars.

    1. Hello,

      That was actually our original idea was to mount the motors on the legs. It would indeed be super awsome, howere there several issues with this though.

      The first being that under a good amount of throttle the motors put out a lot of thrust (a little more then 3.5lbs at full throttle) and the servos just can not handle that kind of load.

      The second issue is prop clearance. You can never tell where a prop is at, so then you have to worry about the leg moving in such a way it causes the prop to hit another part of the body, or another leg.

      So for those reasons we decided to mating the two in this way was currently the best option with out a full redesign of everything (which we do plan to do). This also allows us to make the machines able to operate separately from each other, as well as attached. The next plan is a release mechanism for the Hexapod, and then a way to pick it back up safely and easily.

  2. If the props can be hidden in a lightweight frame, it’ll look like a flying saucer with legs or a flying sextapus (hex version of octopus)!

  3. I wonder if large central counter-rotating propellers and a gas (RC fuel) engine could be used to supply a majority of the lift (hover power) and smaller battery and motors for the outrigger propellers would be a viable alternative. The energy density of gasoline plus the fast maneuvering of microprocessor control surfaces. A large enough engine could also generate (some?) electrical power for the electrics reducing battery weight. Yeah, I know, it wouldn’t be as quiet; and would also limit the hexapod capabilities.

    1. Hmm, yes. While hexapods may be novel and creepy, they’re not impressive otherwise; being terribly slow and inefficient. Plus the extra weight and complexity makes it harder to get airborne.

      I’m imagining a four-wheeled quadcopter instead. It could efficiently travel at high speeds on the ground. It could pass obstacles by going airborne, which being brief, won’t drain the batteries too much. Or it can fly longer periods if you don’t mind the short battery life. Wonder if anyone’s done it.

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