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A humanoid robot designed to fly like Iron Man has been built to help in natural disasters

The robot will have systems in its palms that allow it to control power and direction, like Marvel superhero Iron Man.

Getty Images/Eduardo Parra

  • Italian researchers are adding propulsion engines to a small humanoid robot.
  • The engines will allow the robot to fly like Iron Man.
  • The iCub, as the robot is called, could help in natural disasters.

A team of scientists at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia has been attempting to fix a propulsion backpack to a small humanoid robot called iCub.

The robot will have systems in its palms that allow it to control power and direction, much like the Marvel superhero Iron Man.

The team, which was set up 15 years ago to push forward with scientific progress in Italy, hopes that iCub’s flying ability and small size will allow it to help in natural disasters that humans or drones are unable to reach.

“Every year, about 300 natural disasters kill around 90.000 humans and affect 160 million people across the world,” their website reads.

iCub robot.The robot is called iCub.

Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images

The team explains that robotics hasn’t yet been able to offer affordable solutions to such problems, and humanoid robots are currently only effective indoors.

It’s a tricky balance, as the robots need to remain effective indoors, to help with rescues after earthquakes for example, whilst also being able to function effectively outside.

The ability to fly will allow iCub to do both these things. 

It already has free arms that are capable of manipulating objects. It would also be able to walk on different types of terrain, using the propulsion engines to get over large obstacles.

“At 104 cm tall, the iCub has the size of a five year old child. It can crawl on all fours, walk and sit up to manipulate objects. Its hands have been designed to support sophisticated manipulation skills,” the website says. “More than 40 robots have been built so far which are available in laboratories across Europe, US, Korea, Singapore, China, and Japan.”

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