Normally when we post about robots, we make Terminator jokes. But not this little guy. All he wants to do is jump like a monkey. No, literally. They gave him a tail so he could jump with the same agility monkeys do.
“They”, in this case, is really “he”: Jianguo Zhao, a fifth-year PhD student at Michigan State University. Zhao led a team that gave a robot a tail because, well, monkeys don’t have them because they’re cute:
By actively swinging the tail in mid-air, we can control the robot’s body angle to ensure a safe landing posture—landing on the ground with its side. This tail can also make the robot stand up for the next jump or lie down for running. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first miniature robot that having all the three capabilities: running, jumping, and aerial maneuvering.
Dubbed TailBot, it’s pretty dramatic how effective having a butt extension turns out to be when leaping great distances. Here’s a video showing off just how dramatic:
Scaling this up might be a bit of a production, though; once you get beyond a certain weight limit, the energy usage becomes a bit more than the actual benefit. So we won’t have any leaping robot death squads any time soon. Just the normal kind, if DARPA has its way.