University of California, Berkeley researchers have made improvements to their signature robot Salto, so that he can tackle obstacles with ease. The robot can hop in place like a pogo stick and can even repel off of a wall to bounce higher. The results of their work were recently unveiled at the 2019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Montreal, Canada.
“Small robots are really great for a lot of things, like running around in places where larger robots or humans can’t fit. For example, in a disaster scenario, where people might be trapped under rubble, robots might be really useful at finding the people in a way that is not dangerous to rescuers and might even be faster than rescuers could have done unaided,” says Justin Yim, University of California, Berkeley robotics graduate student. “We wanted Salto to not only be small, but also able to jump really high and really quickly so that it could navigate these difficult places.”
From the University of California, Berkeley article: "Salto’s single, powerful leg is modeled after those of the galago, or Senegalese bush baby. The small, tree-dwelling primate’s muscles and tendons store energy in a way that gives the spry creature the ability to string together multiple jumps in a matter of seconds. By linking a series of quick jumps, Salto also can navigate complex terrain — like a pile of debris — that might be impossible to cross without jumping or flying.
Three years ago, Salto’s design team demonstrated how the robot could take a leap and then immediately spring higher by ricocheting off a wall, making it the world’s most vertically agile robot. Since then, Yim has been leading the effort to design sophisticated control systems that let Salto master increasingly complex tasks, like bouncing in place, navigating an obstacle course or following a moving target.
Yim has also equipped Salto with new technology that allows it to “feel” its own body, telling it what angle it is pointing and the bend of its leg. Without these abilities, Salto has been confined to a room in one of Berkeley’s engineering buildings, where motion capture cameras track its exact angle and position and transmit that data back to a computer, which rapidly crunches the numbers to tell Salto how to angle itself for its next leap."
Read more about the obstacle tackling jumping robot at University of California, Berkeley.