Every year German engineering firm Festo develops a new robotic animal to try and learn from nature how to create a more efficient killing machine. Or, to build better industrial robots. Whatever you want to believe, poindexter.
This year it was the robot kangaroo, in order to figure out how kangaroos work because science. (Australian readers, this robot is more of a wallaby, because it’s smaller than a kangaroo, and also it’s more adorable.)
Apparently kangaroos (wallabies) are super good at jumping because they’re magically imbued with demon powers. And that’s how the robot works.
Okay, no it isn’t. Kangaroos have special tendons that recover energy when they’re mid-air, so they can keep jumping without asking coach for a water break. Festo did the same thing using an elastic spring and pneumatic cylinders. This robo-roo weighs 7 kilograms and is a meter high, and can jump 0.4 meters vertically and 0.8 meters horizontally.
In order to jump as far as possible, the kangaroo pulls its legs forward during the flight phase. This creates torque at the hip, for which the artificial animal compensates with a movement of its tail. The top of the body thereby stays almost horizontal.
According to IEEE Spectrum:
Of course, an internal power source is necessary as well, and BionicKangaroo relies on either a small compressor or a storage tank to provide high pressure air for the pneumatic muscles that power the jumping. Lightweight batteries drive everything, and a sophisticated kinematic control system keep the robot from toppling over. Control, as you might have noticed in the video, is gesture-based, via a Thalmic Labs Myo armband.
The Germans are calling it BionicKangaroo? That is just so boring. Robo-roo (Ro-ballaby?) needs a name.