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"We give humanoid robots
the ability to fly"


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[aerial] How

[aerial] Research on the flight control of flying humanoid robots

iRonCub wire and solid image

wireframe and solid ironcub Cad project

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Built on top of iCub v2.5, iRonCub is endowed with 4 jet engines, two of them mounted on the arms and the other two on a jetpack attached to the robot’s back.

Modifications of the iCub hardware design were required to support the external engines, such as the development of a new spine in titanium and the addition of heat-resistant covers for heat protection.

The robot with jet engines weights about 45 kg. The turbines can provide a maximum thrust force of more than 750N, and the exhaust temperature reaches over 600 degrees.


Aerial_video_Momentum-Based Extended Kalman Filter for Thrust Estimation on Flying Multibody Robots


Trajectory Planner

A challenging task in the context of Aerial Humanoid Robotics consists of planning both flight and walking trajectories, as well as tranisitions between walking and flight.

To address this problem, we designed a momentum-based trajectory planning algorithm with Python, implemented via direct multiple-shooting approach. The planner has been validated in simulation and it is going to be tested on the real robot.


Flight Control

We design control algorithms to regulate both the attitude and the position of the humanoid robot during flight. The control design is based on constrained Quadratic Programming optimization, and the theoretical soundness of the proposed algorithms is verified via Lyapunov analysis. The framework is generalized to work independently from the number of jet turbines installed on the robot, and ensures also satisfaction of some physical constraints associated with the robot and jet engines.

Simulations are carried out with Simulink and Gazebo. The Simulink controller is also tested during experiments with the real robot.

Walking to flight transition iRonCub

flight simulation


[Aerial] Experimental research on jet turbines and co-design

momentum base extended


AERODYNAMICS - text +media


CFD simulation

The aerodynamics of a single rigid body is a complex matter. Consequently, dealing with the aerodynamics of a multi-body system - as a flying humanoid robot is - leaves little space for closed form expressions of the aerodynamic effects, and it is not what we aim to do. So, our approach to evaluate the aerodynamic effects on the flying humanoid robot is to perform CFD simulations using Ansys Fluent, and then extract a simplified model to use in the control design.


Experiments in a wind tunnel

We are performing experiments with the real iRonCub in a wind tunnel at Politecnico di Milano. The aim of this activity is to validate the CFD simulations and collect useful data. This is the first time a humanoid robot is tested in a wind tunnel.

aerodynamics iRonCub