University researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have created a new robot that can jump over 100 feet into the air at over 60 miles per hour. (That’s nearly three times the current record!) That distance and speed increases if it’s not traveling straight up and pulled down by gravity. So, it’s basically the Superman of robots.
The university researchers joined forces with Imagineers at Disney Research for this project. The latter is the team that brought the “stuntronics” of an autonomous leaping Spider-Man robot to life at Disney’s California Adventure park. The video below has lots of cool footage of the robot jumping on various terrains.
The robot, which we found via Scientific American, isn’t as disconcerting as those agile cheetah robots or even humanoid robots. Rather than reminiscent of something in nature, this looks more like a grade school science experiment. The egg drop or mouse trap car variety. Or even one of those plastic rockets you set off in your backyard. But the engineers optimized the design and every material involved.
The prestigious peer-reviewed journal Nature published the results. The robot consists of a small motor encased in fiberglass, a battery, bendable carbon fiber, and rubber bands. It’s capable of righting itself and resetting to jump again. Battery life and navigation are the next stages of the project. But the engineers are shooting for the moon, literally. Without Earth’s atmosphere, the robot could jump four times higher while also traveling a distance of over a quarter mile.
Many robot technologies focus on biomimicry, or reproducing what the animal kingdom can do. But the engineers who designed this robot worked outside those constraints. The spring to motor ratio is 100 times greater than what’s found in the muscles and other adaptations in animals. Nature can provide inspiration, but it also has its limits.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.