Tiny, Jumping Robot Gets More Mobile

The latest incarnation of the Salto robot can clear numerous obstacles and complete dozens of jumps in a short span.

In 2016, researchers at the University of California-Berkeley created Salto (Saltatorial Locomotion on Terrain Obstacles). Salto is a tiny jumping robot that can leap off the ground, hit a spot on the wall, and then jump off the wall. Cool, but limited.

Since then, the team has added a host of capabilities. Salto can now run or jump for more than 10 minutes, taking as many as 100 jumps in that period.

The remote-controlled robot can also jump four feet high, run 8 to 10 miles per hour and has the ability to clear various obstacles. It also has the ability to follow, land and launch from moving targets, like a tiny little parkour robot.

Because it's so quick, it can land and launch off surfaces that normal robots would simply slide off. It also has onboard sensors that help it stay upright and change position while in the air to make sure it lands correctly.

Next, the team wants to make Salto more agile, including the ability to jump on or from various surfaces, like gravel. Right now, it’s restricted to wood, brick, grass and concrete. The researchers also want to add arms, so it can grab onto objects after it jumps.

The design was inspired by galagoes, which are also known as bush babies.

The team recently presented its work at the 2019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Montreal.

Like other robots that were designed with a unique set of skills, Salto could one day be used for search and rescue missions, looking for survivors while navigating unpredictable terrain.

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