Robotics: Jumping robot breaks height record

Robotics: Jumping robot breaks height record

Aa machine from n’s workshop Leonardo da Vinci It is reminiscent of a leaping robot developed by researchers at the University of California and Caltech in Pasadena. This strangely shaped creature weighs only 30 grams and jumps more than 30 meters high. It is about three hundred times its size. Elliot Hawkes and his colleagues wrote that neither the best hopping robots nor the record-holders among jumping creatures could compete with it. In the magazine “Nature”, The 70 cm long foam cicada – this was the inspiration for the researchers – manages to be 115 times the length of its body.

Engineers have been developing jumping machines for decades. They often get inspiration from nature. For most creatures, maximum jump height is determined by the jumping power of their leg muscles. Insects also take advantage of their long hind legs to be able to jump as far as possible. Jumping robots are typically equipped with actuators such as ratchets, torsion springs, and motors.

Video sequence: Jumping robot takes off

Video sequence: Jumping robot takes off

Image: Elliot W Hawkes

For a robot to be able to jump as high as possible, as much energy as possible must be stored in the actuators before jumping. One indication of this is the starting speed. The record holder from Hawkes and his colleagues’ lab accelerates from 0 to 28 meters per second in under nine milliseconds. In this process, an energy of 24.2 Joules is suddenly released, as shown by the simulations. For the researchers, the realization that unlike living creatures, the weight of jumping robots is less important than the jumping mechanism when it comes to design. The instrument of California is ten times heavier than its natural counterpart.

The researchers use a rotary motor and a sophisticated spring effect as drives: Four elastic carbon fibers are bent extremely tightly by means of rubber bands and a traction cable, which is connected to a rotary motor, and in the process He is put under a lot of stress. If it is large enough, a claw is released at the upper end of the pull rope, on which the rubber bands abruptly rest. The robot takes flight. The carbon fiber and housing together with the rotating motor take on an aerodynamically extended shape during flight. After landing the rotating motor re-tightens the traction cable and the whole process starts over again. It takes two minutes to restart.

The main advantage of jumping robots is that they can easily overcome obstacles. This makes jumping robots interesting for exploring inhospitable areas, such as mountains of debris after an earthquake or over rugged terrain on alien planets. However, it should be possible to change the height and direction of the jump, which is not the case with the equipment used by Hawks’ researchers. Now you want to optimize the jumping robot so that it jumps even higher.

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