Soon, a robot that hops like a kangaroo
Ever seen a robot that flies like a seagull or jumps like a kangaroo? You must not have but soon will. For the last few years, a German firm Festo has been secretly working in their sprawling laboratory on their most ambitious bio-inspired robot yet: a hopping robotic kangaroo.
BionicKangaroo is able to realistically emulate the jumping behaviour 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 tired 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. †The entire robotic animal weighs just seven kg and stands a metre high but it can jump 0.4 metre vertically and 0.8 metres horizontally, which is fairly impressive, media reports said.
BionicKangaroo relies on either a small compressor or a storage tank to provide high-pressure air for the pneumatic muscles that power the jumping. A sophisticated kinematic control system keeps the robot from toppling over, the reports added.