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Crazy robots go wild in California

hop bot.jpgSwiss inventors have unveiled an amazing jumping robot, which they claim could explore inaccessible areas on other planets or help rescue missions here on Earth. Inspired by the grasshopper, the 7 gram robot can jump 27 times its body size, 1.4 meters (Daily Telegraph, MSNBC).

“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,” says Dario Floreano, of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne (press release). “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.”

A tiny battery powers an equally tiny motor that tensions springs. These then power the robot’s jumps. The robot, which appears not to be named at the moment, is being presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation today in Pasadena.

More highlights from the conference below the fold.


Steven Floyd, from Carnegie Mellon University, and colleagues are developing a robot that can run on water:

The water runner robot is designed to run on the surface of water in a manner similar to the basilisk lizard. To do so, it must generate a lift force greater than its weight by slapping and stroking its foot through the water, creating an air cavity in the process. In addition, it must remove its foot before this cavity collapses.

At the conference he’s talking about the problems with getting its feet right. More on this robot (pdf).

James McKenna, of SAIC, is working on snake robots that can go places wheeled and walking robots can’t:

Snake robots using biologically inspired gaits for locomotion can provide better access in many situations, but are slow and can easily snag. This paper introduces an alternative approach to snake robot locomotion, in which the entire surface of the robot provides continuous propulsive force to significantly improve speed and mobility in many environments.

There’s a whole session on fish robots, including a robot tuna which can swim at 0.37 body lengths per second and turn in 1 body length. It’s not clear how long its body is.

Want a robot that can climb walls? You got it. Popular Mechanics even has a video of the thing.

The craziest robot has to be this one though: a miniature robot that can “autonomously position electrodes in cortical tissue for isolation and tracking of extracellular signals of individual neurons”.

Image: Alain Herzog/EPFL

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