This Robot’s Acrobatic Leaps Are the Coolest Thing You’ll See Today

 I found this article from IEEE Spectrum website, this robot was presented at ICRA this year by Aaron M. Johnson fro m the University of Pennsylvania’s Kod Lab. which has a unique legs structure caught my interest.

 Legs have an advantage over wheels when it comes to rough terrain, but the articulated legs often found on walking robots require complex, specialized instructions for each moving part. To get the most mobility out of RHex’s simple, one-jointed legs, Penn researchers are essentially teaching the robot Parkour. Taking inspiration from human free-runners, the team is showing the robot how to manipulate its body in creative ways to get around all sorts of obstacles.
The RHex platform was first developed through a multi-university collaboration more than a decade ago. Graduate student Aaron Johnson and professor Daniel Koditschek, both of the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, are working on a version of RHex known as XRL, or X-RHex Lite. This lighter and more agile version of the robot, developed in Koditschek’s Kod*Lab, a division of Engineering’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab, is ideal for testing new ways for it to run, jump, and climb.

And note that this is not a small robot. The UPenn researchers are using their X-RHex Light, or XRL, which weighs 6.7 kilograms (14.8 pounds) and has a body length of 51 centimeters (20 inches). The robot has six compliant C-shaped legs, each with a diameter of 17.5 centimeters (6.9 inches), independently actuated by Maxon 50-W brushless motors.

Here’s exactly what the robot is capable of:

  • A vertical standing leap of 30 centimeters (200 percent of RHex’s standing height)
  • A double leap that crosses a 60 centimeter gap (120 percent of RHex’s body length)
  • A climbing double leap onto a ledge of 29 centimeters
  • A vertical leap-grab onto a desk with a height of 73 centimeters (!)






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