Researchers from the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have unveiled a "grasshopper-inspired " jumping robot.
First displayed at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in California, the robot weighs just seven grams and can jump 1.4 metres, or more than 27 times its body size.
The scientists claim that this distance is 10 times further for its size and weight than any existing jumping robot.
"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," said EPFL professor Dario Floreano.
"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."
Professor Floreano explained that small jumping animals such as fleas, locusts, grasshoppers and frogs use elastic storage mechanisms to slowly charge and quickly release energy.
In this way, they can achieve very powerful jumps and very high accelerations.
The grasshopper robot uses the same principle, charging two torsion springs via a small 0.6 gram pager motor and a cam.
In order to be able to optimise the jumping performance, the legs can be adjusted for jumping force, takeoff angle and force profile during the acceleration phase.
The tiny onboard battery allows it to make up to 320 jumps at intervals of three seconds.
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