A team of roboticists from UC Berkeley have just unveiled a small robot that is arguably the most agile one ever made.
Salto, short for saltatorial locomotion on terrain obstacles, which weighs 100 grams (3.5 ounces), is 26 centimeters (10.2 inches) tall, can leap into the air, spring off a wall, or perform several vertical jumps in succession. It has a vertical jumping agility of 1.75 meters per second, higher than that of a bullfrog, and a little short of the galago, which is one of the the most vertically agile creatures on earth.
The galago, which can jump five times in four seconds has the ability to store energy in its tendons while crouched down, allowing it to jump to heights that muscles alone couldn’t reach. This same process was applied to Salto, giving it its exceptional vertical agility. A motor drives a spring that loads via a leg mechanism to mimic the crouch of the galago, which allows it complete multiple quick jumps in a row.
"By combining biologically inspired design principles with improved engineering technology, matching the agile performance of animals may not be that far off," Ronald Fearing, a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, said.