This is officially a very bad-ass piece of technology, so we're not sure why the development team has given us only a lousy 240p video, but what can you do. Koji Kawasaki, Moju Zhao, Kei Okada, and Masayuki Inaba from the University of Tokyo's Department of Mechano-Informatics have created a sort of all-terrain foam-encircled quadrotor—imagine a self-propelled bicycle wheel that can fly and float—called the Multi-field Universal Wheel for Air-land Vehicle. Check this thing out:
Is there anything this thing can't do? It can fly, skip along the water, roll around, hold specific angles in both flight and on the ground, and can "push" itself from a prone to a standing position.
There are a few reasons why these capabilities are relevant. First, it gives the quadrotor ways to move around without always having to expend energy flying. Second, by rolling, MUWA can squeeze through vertical gaps that it wouldn't be able to while flying horizontally. And by getting MUWA to do things like rotate around a point on the ground while changing its angle ("tornado motion," the researchers call it), a Kinect sensor on the robot can rapidly build up a complete 3D map of its surroundings.
The team is reportedly already working on the second generation of the device, which they're trying to get to fly in a vertical attitude, and roll along the top of a liquid surface. This could be the ultimate surveillance/scanning/diagnostic/search-and-rescue drone ever.
Via IEEE Spectrum