Researchers study locusts to make jumping robots

If you are wondering why there has been a lot of robot news lately, that’s because the International Conference on Robotics and Automation is happening this week.

In my last post you probably remember me talking about killer attack droids, this time I will talk about jumping search and rescue droids. Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) designed a grasshopper or locus like robot. The robot can jump distances over 27 times its body length, which is amazing since it’s about the size of a locust and weighs only 7 grams.

“We are about in the same jumping performance of a locust,” said EPFL graduate student Mirko Kovac, who helped design the robot.

So that explains it.

To obtain such a high jumping performance they actually analyzed locusts. Then they created a similar mechanism to store jumping energy. It only needs a battery, motor, and two springs which quickly release energy to achieve very powerful jumps. It can do this 320 times before needing a 3 second battery charge.

These little robots could be deployed in swarms for search and rescue operations since the jumping robots can handle strain that leg- and wheel-based robot find difficult.

Photo Credit: Alain Herzog, EPFL