We see all kinds of mobile robots here at the Hackster.io blog, both from our own users’ projects and from university and corporate labs. The vast majority of them roll around on wheels, because that’s the most efficient way to travel over smooth, flat surfaces. Occasionally we see robots that walk around on two or more legs. But, we’ve never seen a hopping pogo stick robot like the University of California Berkeley’s Salto-1P.
Imagine Pixar’s Luxo Jr. lamp on steroids, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Salto-1P is all about. If you want to get technical — we certainly do — Salto-1P is a robot based on the “spring-loaded inverted pendulum” model. The “inverted pendulum” part of that name means that it uses inertia to stay balanced upright with very little energy, like a Segway. The “spring-loaded” part means that it uses springs to redirect kinetic energy from gravity into jumps. The result is a robot that can bounce around on one leg, and is completely adorable.
Salto-1P doesn’t just jump around randomly like a drunk kangaroo, it can direct those leaps in a controlled manner to move around as necessary. It’s capable of hopping a couple of feet high, and can jump to specific locations and hit the mark within a foot 95% of the time. As the researchers demonstrate in the video above, Salto-1P can utilize that capability to hop up onto furniture with amazing dexterity — something very few robots can do. We’re not quite sure what the practical applications would be, but we want Salto-1Ps in our homes anyway.