Researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology have developed a novel take on the rollcage-wrapped flying bot that does more than just protect the rotors during a crash. Its HyTAQ, or Hybrid Terrestrial and Aerial Quadrotor, uses a spinning cylindrical cage that also allows it to simply roll along the ground to get around.
But why not just fly everywhere? Well, it turns out that rolling uses far less energy than flying. And with a mix of terrestrial locomotion and flight to handle more difficult terrain, the HyTAQ can operate six times longer and travel four times farther than a similarly-sized flying-only quadrotor. And, since the rotors are actually used to propel the bot on the ground, there's no extra weight from additional components needed to spin the cage. It really is the best of both worlds; it's just too bad there won't be a toy version ready for Christmas.