Scientists have presented a new, potential rescue mission technology in the form of Salto, the nature-inspired robot that can jump.
Humanity has long since looked to nature when searching for inspiration. As researchers were trying to develop a new robot, they once again turned to the world surrounding us.
As such, they have come up with Salto. A team of University of California, Berkley researchers have come up with a new type of robot.
Research results and additional information were published as a study in the Science Robotics journal. The study, which was released earlier this week, on December 06, was led by Duncan Haldane.
Haldane, who is a robotics Ph.D. student at the aforementioned University went to offer details. For example, the meaning of the jumping robot’s name.
Salto comes from Saltatorial Locomotion on Terrain Obstacles. As mentioned, when designing the robot, the team was inspired by nature and biology.
The natural source of inspiration came from the galago. Galago, or bush babies, as they are sometimes called, are small-sized but big-eyed African primates. They are also quite well known for their jumping abilities.
Bush babies were specifically chosen as a source of inspiration, as the study leader went to point out. The aforementioned Haldane stated that the galago inspiration decision came after careful previous research.
As Haldane declares, the team set out to create a search-and-rescue robot. So as to accomplish its mission, the robot would have to be both small and agile.
Its size had to be small enough so as not to disturb potentially collapsible ruble. At the same time, it had to be agile enough so as to move amongst such debris.
In order to determine the best-fitting nature inspiration, the researchers went and produced a new metric. The system took into account, amongst others, an animal’s vertical jumping agility.
The vertical jumping agility is the title given to the jumping process. As such, the height achieved by an animal as it jumps once in normal gravity is multiplied by its jump frequency.
As these parameters were taken into account, the galago was determined to be the most indicated inspiration source. Despite its small size, a bush baby can leap both very high and also quite often.
The approximately 5 to 8 inches tall animal can jump an estimated eight feet in the air. It can also string a series of such high leaps as it makes its way over difficult terrain.
As such, Salto was based on an animal with an impressive natural jumping ability. Bush babies were found to have a 2.24 meters per second vertical jumping agility.
According to the study researchers, current robot model can only reach about 55 percent of the galago’s vertical jumping ratio.
Not even Salto could reach the galago when comparing its resting start jumping altitude to that of the primate.
However, Salto did surpass current models as it closed in on the galago jump with its 78 percent agility. The jumping robots reached a vertical jumping height of 1.75 meters per second.
Salto’s abilities can be attributed to the primate. Similar to the galago, the robot crouches before jumping. In order to imitate the crouch, the researchers created a special leg mechanism.
A motor bends the robot’s spring mechanism that help it jump. Unlike other systems, Salto does not have to rewind before leaping for a second time.
As such, Salto is also capable of jumping multiple times in a row. Although other robots are capable of jumping higher, the new robot has the best vertical leap agility ratio.
Its developers are now hoping that Salto will come to fulfill its purpose and help save lives as it jumps its way across impassable terrains.
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