Researcher Designs Robot That Jumps Like a Grasshopper University of Bath (12/04/08)
University of Bath Ph.D. student Rhodri Armour has designed
Jollbot, a robot that can jump like a grasshopper and roll like a ball
and could potentially become a key element of future space exploration
efforts. A major challenge robots face in space exploration is
traveling over rough terrain. Jollbot is shaped like a spherical cage,
and can roll in any direction, giving it the maneuverability of wheels
while negating the problem of overturning or getting stuck in small
depressions. Jollbot also is flexible and small, weighing less than a
kilogram, which means it will not be damaged by landing after a jump,
and it is less expensive than conventional exploration robots. Jollbot
uses electrical motors to slowly store the energy needed to make jumps.
"Before jumping, the robot squashes its spherical shape," Armour says.
"When it is ready, it releases the stored energy all at once to jump to
heights of up to half a meter." A high-speed camera was used to analyze
how the robot jumps and predict how it might behave in a low-gravity
environment. "Future prototypes could include a stretchy skin covered
in solar cells on the outside of the robot, so it could power itself,
and robotic control sensors to enable it to sense its environment,"