Grasshopper-Inspired Jumping Robot

Researchers from the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL, one of the two Ecoles Polytechniques Federales in Switzerland, have developed a grasshopper-inspired jumping robot. The team unveiled the new robot at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, which took place on May 21st in Pasadena, California. Unlike other existing robots, this innovative robot is capable of jumping to a height of more than 27 times its body size, setting the bar even higher for its successors.

This jumping robot utilizes a principle found in small animals such as grasshoppers and frogs, which achieve powerful jumps by using elastic storage mechanisms to slowly charge and quickly release their jumping energy. In a similar way, the jumping robot uses a 0.6-gram pager motor and a cam in order to charge its two springs.

The robot can jump up to 320 times at intervals of 3 seconds using its tiny on-board battery. To ensure better performance, before jumping, during the acceleration phase,  the robot’s legs are adjusted for the suitable jumping force, takeoff angle, and force profile.

Weighing only 7 grams, this small robot can jump to a height of 1.4 meters. Thanks to its unique capabilities, the robot may be used in a variety of tasks and operations. “This biomimetic form of jumping is unique because it allows micro-robots to travel over many types of rough terrain where no other walking or wheeled robot could go,” explains EPFL Professor Dario Floreano. “These tiny jumping robots could be fitted with solar cells to recharge between jumps and deployed in swarms for extended exploration of remote areas on Earth or on other planets.”

TFOT has covered other animal-inspired robots, including a six-inch robotic spy plane modeled after a bat, a micro robotic fly developed by researchers at Harvard University, a robotic rat  designed to aid in rescuing missions, and miniature spider-like robots, which will be capable of carrying out intelligence-gathering tasks in places that are too dangerous for soldiers to enter.

More information on the jumping robots is available on EPFL’s official website.