Festo HQ, the engineering team that brought us Aqua Penguins, Aqua Jellyfish, dragonfly-inspired BionicOpters, and a robot that flies like a bird can now add Bionic Kangaroo to their list of animal-inspired achievements in technology. From spectrum.ieee.org:
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.
From The New York Times, here’s a summary report from DARPA’s Robotics Challenge 2013. The competition is made of eight trials that include climbing ladders, walking across rough terrain, and clearing debris, showcasing how robots can aid in future disaster responses.
Out of 16 competing teams, eight robot finalists earned places in the 2014 Grand Challenge where the team of the robot winner will be awarded a $2 million prize. From Extreme Tech:
The Schaft team won in four out of eight tasks — terrain, ladder, debris, and hose — and accrued a total score of 27 points. Second-place IHMC Robotics, which used Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot, came in second with two task wins and 20 points.
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.
Watch more robot videos.
Need a battery-powered, modular, humanoid robot with strong legs and an amazing array of built-in cameras to help set up habitation on Mars for pioneering astronauts? NASA’s got you covered. Meet Valkyrie.
"The space agency’’’s new Valkyrie — a 6 foot 2 inch tall (1.9 meters) robot with a glowing NASA logo on its chest — bears an uncanny resemblance to Marvel’s superhero Iron Man, but this space age automaton was built for work, not comic book heroics. A team of engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Tex., designed and built Valkyrie in just nine months, according to press reports."
NASA created Valkyrie for DARPA’s upcoming Robotics Challenge Trials on December 20-21, 2013, where it will be in competition with 17 teams from around the world including NASA JPL’s RoboSimian, Carnegie Mellon University-NREC’s CHIMP, and Japan’s SCHAFT.
There are always more robot videos in the archives.