University develops jumping 'grasshopper' robot

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University develops jumping 'grasshopper' robot

Antony Savvas

A Bath University student has designed a robot that jumps like a grasshopper and rolls like a ball.

And for anyone wondering what use such skills could be put to, the university says they could play a key role in future space exploration.

The "Jollbot" has been created by PhD student Rhodri Armour, and can jump over obstacles and roll over smoother terrain.

One of the major challenges that faces robots designed for space exploration is being able to move over rough terrain.

Robots with legs are generally very complex, expensive to build and control, and encounter problems if they fall over. Wheeled models are limited by the size of obstacles they can overcome.

To solve the problem, Armour and colleagues in the University's Centre for Biomimetic & Natural Technologies have looked to nature for inspiration, designing a robot that jumps obstacles in its path like an insect.

The 'Jollbot' is shaped like a spherical cage which can roll in any direction, giving it the manoeuvrability of wheels without the problem of overturning or getting stuck in potholes.

The robot is also flexible and small, weighing less than a kilogram, meaning it is not damaged when landing after jumping, and is therefore less expensive than conventional exploration robots.

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