Science

Incredible jumping robot triples the world record

A new jumping robot can fly nearly 100 feet into the air in a single jump – and it could one day use the opportunity to explore the moon for NASA.

Problem: Most animals rely on movement to survive – if you can’t move fast enough or aren’t agile enough, you won’t be able to hunt prey or escape predators. As a result, we now share the planet with amazing runners, joggers and swimmers.

Engineers have always turned to animals for ideas when designing mobile machines – it was the world’s fastest leopard-inspired soft robot and the first indoor bathtub flying machine.

The best jumping robots are based on the biology of frogs, kangaroos and grasshoppers, but can we build better jumping machines than those found in nature?

Engineers have long looked to animals for ideas when designing mobile machines.

Idea: Researchers at UC Santa Barbara tried to answer this question by comparing research on biological jumps (animals) and artificial jumps (robots), and then used what they learned to build the best robot missed possible.

“There hasn’t really been a study done that compares and contrasts the two methods and how their limitations differ – are engineering jumpers really limited by the same laws as biological jumpers,” she told researcher Elliot Hawkes.

“He could jump off an impregnable cliff or jump to the bottom of a crater. »

Elliot Hawk

How are you? The height an animal can jump is limited by the force that its muscles can apply to the ground in one movement.

But jumping robots can “doubling the work” by using ratchet or spinning motors to build up power before they’re released, UCSD researchers explain in their new study. article published in the journal Nature.

Using this knowledge, they designed a large robot that looked a bit like nature’s best jumpers.

The flying robot that broke the record. Credit: UC Santa Barbara

At the top of the robot is a small motor that pulls on a rope and compresses four carbon fiber arcs. When the tension on the rope is released, the legs straighten out, pushing off the ground and sending the robot nearly 100 feet into the air.

This three-part book Standard Height for a Jumping Robot shows how engineers can benefit from looking beyond nature when designing locomotive systems.

“It’s very important to consider how a given engineering system has similar and different constraints compared to a typical biological system – and design it accordingly, rather than just copying a solution found in nature,” Hawks said. I told Scientific American.

Why it matters: We regularly use flying robots such as drones for control or search and rescue missions. This jumping robot’s ability to reach such dizzying heights means it’s likely to be a simpler and more efficient option for the same applications.

The robot can also operate in locations where conventional flight would be difficult, if not impossible. Hawks told Scientific American that he is currently working with NASA to develop a device for lunar exploration missions.

“On the surface of the moon, our device could theoretically jump half a kilometer forward, rising 125 meters in a single jump,” he said. “For example, he could jump off an impregnable cliff or jump to the bottom of a crater, collect samples and return on a wheeled all-terrain vehicle. »

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