One-legged robot mastered parkour

Specialists from the University of California at Berkeley built a jumping robot that can bounce off the walls. Article published in Science Robotics.

One of the challenges in modern robotics is the implementation of dynamic movements. Depending on the field of application, the robot may need the ability to jump or use its own momentum when walking to maintain balance, especially such skills are relevant for rescue robots, which must move on a complex surface. According to the engineers, the creation of a robot, the principle of movement of which most closely resembles parkour, was inspired by the Galago, who make high jumps from a deep squat.

A robot called Salto weighs 100 grams and with the help of a single leg can make jumps from a height of up to one meter. At the same time he can increase the height of the jump, pushing off from a vertical obstacle and jumping again – in this case, the maximum height of the jump is 120 centimeters. The robot can also move horizontally with the help of jumps at a speed of up to 1.75 meters per second.

For the jump, not only the electric motor is used, but also a spring connected to it, which acts as a mechanical energy storage device. Thanks to this design, Salto not only jumps high, but also practically does not spend time on loading the mechanism, like other jumping robots – for example, Sand Flea


There are other robots that use jumps as the main method of movement. For example, Disney Research built a prototype of a one-legged jumping robotthat can independently maintain balance. At Carnegie Mellon University, they developed a goat robotic leg GOAT , which can go, run and jump in any direction, followed by a soft landing at the University of California at San Diego and Harvard University created an  explosive robie frog , which jumps to a height six times its own height, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology they came up with a jumping robocube , capable of move in a given direction.In addition to specially designed devices, jumps and dynamic movements are also being mastered by more familiar robots with a traditional design. For example, recently experts from the Institute of Human and Machine Thinking have shown that the humanoid Atlas robot can take into account its own momentum to maintain balance when moving on a complex surface. Also, engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have taught a cheetah robot to jump obstacles from a takeoff run, and Researchers at Seoul University and the University of California at Berkeley have taught them howto jump a robot.

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