This is a great age of robot locomotion, and human engineers are recapitulating natural evolution, trying out every biological system– butterflies, bats, snakes–and many things not seen in nature (at least above the micro scale) (quadcopters, bucky bots.
Evan Ackerman reports on the amazing Salto jumping robot from U. C. Berkeley. Salto has one (count ‘em, one) leg, and springs around spending 90% of its travel in the air. It’s absolutely astonishing.
The article indicates that the control algorithm is pretty much the same as one developed in 1984, though we can pack a lot faster computation in a smaller critter now. The mechanical design is bio-inspired, learning from the small marsupial galago, which is a crazy jumper.
However, the actual magic is done with steerable “thrusters” (propellers), and the control depends on an external motion capture system that feeds instructions via wireless (an invisible tether). This is not the way little bushbabies do it!
The new improved version will be officially presented September at IROS 2017, probably with some even more awesome demo.
I’m not really sure if this design is especially good for anything, but it’s fun to watch and would make a great game. Imagine the fitness benefits of playing “chase the boingy bot”! Or “try to escape the boingy bot”! (These apps would mash up some kind of planning algorithm to evade or catch the puny human.)
- Evan Ackerman, Salto-1P Is the Most Amazing Jumping Robot We’ve Ever Seen, in IEEE Spectrum – Automation. 2017. http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/salto1p-is-the-most-amazing-jumping-robot-weve-ever-seen