UC Berkeley's Salto Is the Most Agile Jumping Robot Ever
Ron Fearing's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab at UC Berkeley is famous for its stable of bite-sized bio-inspired robots, and Duncan Haldane is responsible for a whole bunch of them. He's worked on running robots, robots with wings, robots with tails, and even robots with hairs, in case that's your thing. What Haldane and the other members of the lab are especially good at is looking to some of the most talented and capable animals for inspiration in their robotic designs.
One of most talented and capable (and cutest) jumping animals is a fluffy little thing called a galago, or bushbaby. They live in Africa, weigh just a few kilos, and can leap tall (nearly two meter) bushes in a single bound. Part of the secret to this impressive jumping ability, which biologists only figured out a little over a decade ago, is that galagos use the structure of their legs to amplify the power of their muscles and tendons. In a paper just published in the (brand new!) journal Science Robotics, Haldane (along with M. M. Plecnik, J. K. Yim, and R. S. Fearing) demonstrate the jumping capability of a little 100g robot called Salto, which leverages the galago's tricks into what has to be the most agile and impressive legged* jumping skill we've ever seen.