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The Kid Should See This

How does this springy robot jump to record-setting heights?

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“Roboticists have designed all sorts of jumping robots over the years, and many of them have been inspired by biology. But, as diverse as the natural world is, evolution hasn’t cracked every option.

“Now a team of researchers has investigated the differences between biological and mechanical jumpers – and have managed to design a device capable of leaping over 30 metres into the air. This is 3 times the current record for a jumping robot, and they did it with a technique unavailable to the biological world – work multiplication.”

This Nature video shares how UC Santa Barbara engineering professor Elliot Hawkes and his team, along with Disney Research, developed a jumping robot that springs to heights of approximately 100 feet, around the height of a ten-story building.

height
Its “self-propelled arrow“-like capabilities—0 to 60 mph in 9 meters (almost 30 feet) per second—are created in its carbon-fiber and rubber compression bow spring design, and the size of the spring relative to its motor. From Hawkes in IEEE Spectrum:

“We started with a design much more like a pogo stick before coming to a bow design, then to the hybrid spring design with the rubber bands and bows together. Countless hours went into troubleshooting all kinds of challenging mechanical problems, from gearbox teeth shearing off to hinges breaking to carbon-fiber springs exploding. Every new iteration was just as exciting—the most recent one that jumps over 30 meters just blows your mind when you see it take off in person. It’s so much energy in such a small device!”

close up on the spring base
view from the jump
Could this kind of mechanism help robots and space vehicles, or even humans, travel across otherworldly terrains? How high could it jump on a planet or moon with low gravity and no air resistance?

Watch these related robot and jumping videos next:
• Boston Dynamics’ incredible jumping Sand Flea robot
• Disney Imagineering’s autonomous robot stunt doubles
• A robot vehicle that drives on walls using propellers
• Exploring Space with Shape-Shifting Tensegrity Robots
• Testing a Space Rover Under Alaskan Ice

Bonus: The Hammer-Feather Drop in the world’s biggest vacuum chamber.

Thanks, Michael Broadstock.

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