When we first spied Sandia National Laboratories' Precision Urban Hopper Robot back in 2009 it employed combustion-driven pistons to propel it into the air and allow it to clear obstacles. In the same year Sandia handed development of the jumping robot over to Boston Dynamics, the company behind robots including PETMAN, BigDog and CHEETAH. Now known as Sand Flea, Boston Dynamics has released new video of the robot showcasing an updated jumping mechanism.
While the earlier video showed the robot jumping while in motion thanks to piston on its underside, the latest video shows Sand Flea coming to a stop and rearing up before launch. This is because the CO2-powered piston now fires from the rear. The robot also features a gyroscopic stabilization system that helps deliver a more controlled landing and keeps it oriented in flight to capture and relay usable video while in midair.
The Sand Flea can clear heights of 30 ft (9 m) and can jump up to 25 times before refueling is required. The robot’s development was funded by DARPA, the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) and the Rapid Equipping Force, with the goal of providing increased situational awareness in combat situations. However, its creators say it also has potential for law enforcement, search and rescue, and planetary exploration applications.
Here’s the latest video of the Sand Flea in action:
Source: IEEE SpectrumView gallery - 3 images