BionicKangaroo is able to realistically emulate the jumping behavior of real kangaroos, which means that it can efficiently recover energy from one jump to help it make another jump. Without this capability, kangaroos (real ones) would get very very tired very very quickly, but by using their tendons like elastic springs, the animals can bound at high speeds efficiently for substantial periods of time.
BionicKangaroo emulates this with an actual elastic spring, which partially “charges” the legs on landing.
Bonus fun: wear the corresponding armband and you can control the kangaroo using gestures. Mmmmmmm, biomechanics.
This 8cm long chameleon may look lifelike, but it’s actually made from paper, gears, a magnet, and a bit of professional watercolor work, all by papercraft artist Johan Scherft. The video above, featured at The Automata Blog, walks through how the automaton moves. Bonus wow moment: there’s a mirror making the build possible.
Rounding out the rest of the DRC results, Tartan Rescue (Carnegie Mellon + NREC) came in third with its CHIMP robot, picking up 18 points, and MIT came in fourth with an Atlas. NASA’s Valkyrie sadly scored zero points. A full break down of the contest and the results can be found on the DRC Trials website. Some cool videos from the event can be found on DARPA’s YouTube channel.
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology explain that these ants can link their bodies together, forming waterproof rafts that behave much like an active material capable of changing state from a solid to a liquid. The ants can drip, spread and coagulate; and this transition helps them survive rainfall and crashing waves.
In a statement, the APS compares the structure’s behavior to Jell-O and toothpaste, stating that they are all “viscoelastic” materials capable of resisting flow under stress and reverting to their original shape like rubber bands. The fire ant rafts do not behave exactly like solids or liquids, but as a kind of hybrid of the two.