DARPA gives an R/C chopper the legs of a dragonfly

DARPA has revealed a new kind of landing gear that allows helicopters to land on inclines and uneven terrain, a feat that's generally impossible using traditional landing skids. Rather than the fixed landing gear that most helicopters sport, this new set of four articulated legs is designed to work much like an insect's. Each leg is outfitted with force feedback sensors that tells it how much pressure to exert in order to keep the aircraft level, regardless of terrain.

"The equipment -- mounted on an otherwise unmodified, unmanned helicopter -- successfully demonstrated the ability to land and take off from terrain that would be impossible to operate from with standard landing gear," DARPA program manager Ashish Bagai said in a statement. Additionally, DARPA engineers figure this new style of landing gear could help reduce damage from hard landings as well as enable helicopters to set down both on 20 degree slopes (double the current limit) and on ships riding rough seas.