Hexacopter and hexapod: together at last
By Darren Quick
December 19, 2012
What do you get when you cross a hexacopter with a hexapod? A hexacopterpod? Hexapodcopter? Hexahexapopter? Whatever it’s called, it’s pretty cool and it comes courtesy of a couple of some industrious lads at Mad Lab Industries. After first attempting to get a quadrocopter and hexapod to mate by throwing them in a closet and cranking the Barry White, the team finally found success with a more engineering-based approach.
After receiving a PhantomX Hexapod kit from Trossen Robotics, the Mad Lab team set to the task of giving it the gift of flight. The first step was performing a bit of weight reduction surgery on the hexapod, which involved the laborious task of replacing its original ABS plates with carbon fiber – which also added a liberal dose of ominous cool.
Although the carbon fiber conversion cut the unit’s weight significantly, it was still hefty enough for the team to decide upon a six-rotor setup rather than four to increase the stability of the unit in the air. A Hoverfly Pro flight controller, six E-Flite Power 15 motors and six E-Flite 40-amp ESC (Electronic Speed Controls) were also used.
The result is a hexapod/hexacopter hybrid that can scuttle along the ground like an insect, or take to the air – like a flying insect. The merging isn’t complete with the hexacopter and hexapod components controlled separately, however, control of both machines via a single remote may be coming in the future. The team also has plans for a catch & release mechanism that would allow the hexapod and hexacopter to detach and reattach on the fly.
The Mad labs team, Don Miller, Jason Penick, and Jason Williams, (with some help from Trossen Robotics’ Andrew Alter), started the project on a whim and are yet to decide upon an official name for their creation. They’re open to suggestions, but if development continues, it might not be too long before us lowly humans start referring to it as “Master.”
In the wake of interest they’ve received, the team is also considering releasing the unit, either as a kit or fully assembled. The main sticking point is a price that will appeal to consumers. With neither hexapod kits nor hexacopters being cheap, the team anticipates a fully assembled unit that is ready to go out of the box would cost somewhere in the region of US$5,500.
Being a small start-up company in the first year of operation, Penick told us that Mad Labs is understandably hesitant to bet on all the current internet interest translating into actual sales – particularly at such a price point. To test the waters and help decide if it’s worth the time and money pursuing a release, the team are planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in the future.
The still unnamed creation can be seen in action in the videos below.
Source: Mad Labs Industries
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