UC Berkeley researchers develop jumping robot

Robots have become increasingly capable, with a number of viral videos showing robots in various environments performing a range of gymnastic feats.  The latest feat of this type was recently performed by a device produced by a team from UC Berkeley, who designed a small robot capable of leaping with the virility of the most agile creatures on earth.

The project, which was documented in a recently published paper, has produced a robot capable of springing off a wall or leaping acrobatically into the air.  The team believe that the robot is performing the highest vertical jumps of any robot in recorded history.

New possibilities

The team believes this opens up a number of fascinating new possibilities.  For instance, the device could be used to navigate hazardous terrain in search and rescue missions.

The machine, which is known as Salto, is based upon the galago, which is the best jumper in the animal creature.  The galago can jump multiple times in a few seconds, and is thus capable of obtaining a combined height of around 8.5 meters.  It does this by storing energy in its tendons to provide more power than muscle alone.

To test the performance of Salto, the team developed a metric by which they could measure the vertical jumping ability of the machine against both other robots and creatures from the animal kingdom.

For instance, Salto was capable of achieving a jumping agility of 1.75 meters per second, which places it ahead of a bullfrog (1.71 meters per second), but behind the galago (2.24 meters per second).  It is better than existing robots by some margin however.

“Developing a metric to easily measure vertical agility was key to Salto’s design because it allowed us to rank animals by their jumping agility and then identify a species for inspiration,” the team say.

It’s an interesting example of the progress that’s being made in the field.  Check out the video below to see Salto in action.

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