Hopping Robot Has Soft Outer Layer with Metal Insides


Origami Frog

An origami frog is not able to jump or even move at all unassisted.  It is folded from a single piece of paper as in the image at the left.  However, engineers at two universities have come up with a jumping robot that is something amazing.  About all it has in common with a real frog is that it has a soft body and the ability to hop.  That is because the robotic hopper has a soft outside and a metal interior and is made of 3-D printed parts.

Scientists at Harvard University and UC San Diego have created the first robot with a 3D-printed body that transitions from an outer layer that is soft to the touch into a rigid metal core.  (The Christian Science Monitor – Science Notebook)

So far in tests, the robots have proven to be durable and powerful.  The engineers have demonstrated that the bots can hop about 2.5 feet high and last for more than 30 jumps.

Engineers have designed and built a frog-like jumping robot that incorporates hard and soft parts — and they’ve done it with a 3D printer.  (Los Angeles Times – Science Now)

What applications may this robotic hopper have in the future?  The engineers reported in the journal Science that the primary applications in the search and rescue field.  But, because it is designed to have a soft exterior, it may also be able to operate around humans more safely that a robot with a hard metal exterior.

Biologically inspired robots continue to be a mainstay for robotic designs.  This is only one of the latest in the field of biomimetics.  Many robots fall into this category.  There have been snakebots, robofish, and now a frog-inspired robot.

Let RobotNext know what you think about this.


Los Angeles Times,  Watch it jump! 3D-printed hopper could lead to better rescue robots

The Christian Science Monitor, Hopping 3-D printed robot has soft exterior, heart of metal

Weekly Newswrap

For this week’s newswrap, there are four stories.  First, from Saturday, is the article about the chemical-detecting robot built by a high school student as a science fair project.  Read the article to find out how it was done.  And yes, it was made from LEGOs!  Second, there is a story on a biologically inspired robot. This one is built by the US Navy to clean barnacles from the bottom of ship’s hulls.  The BUG or Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming robot works by using suction to attach to the hull of a ship.  Third is a post on snakebots.  (I couldn’t let the week go by without a snakebot!)  Of course, it is from Carnegie Mellon and the story has great details on the snakebots developed there.  Finally, there are the Tai Chi robots from Beijing.  Watch the video to see the robots in action.

High School Student Develops Chemical-Detecting Robot – Ethiopian Review

High School Student Develops Chemical-Detecting Robot
Ethiopian Review
You made THAT with Legos!,” exclaimed the children who crowded around my robot on Public Day at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair this

High School Student Develops Chemical-Detecting Robot – Ethiopian Review
(author unknown)
Sat, 26 Sep 2009 23:51:18 GMT

US Navy's Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming Robot

The US Navy is trying to save some money by making their ships more fuel efficient. Keeping a ship's hull free of barnacles, oysters, algae, and other marine life can decrease fuel consumption by up to 40 percent and increase speed by 10 percent. To do the job of cleaning, or "grooming", a vessel's hull, the Office of Naval Research has developed the Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming (BUG) robot (PDF format). The BUG is an autonomous robot that uses negative pressure vortex regenerative fluid movement (which civilians refer to as "suction") to stick to the hull of a ship. Four wheels drive it forward while sensors including biofilm detectors and flourometers allow it to avoid obstacles and plan paths that will take it toward fouled surfaces. The Navy hopes BUGs will be online by 2015, saving up $500 million in maintenance costs per ship while reducing the Navy's carbon footprint. The robot could also be used on non-military ships and yachts. For more info, see the ONR news release.

US Navy's Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming Robot
Wed, 23 Sep 2009 16:42:46 GMT

Robotic Snakes The Future of Things


Carnegie Mellon's Robotic Snake 
(Source: Carnegie Mellon University) via TFOT

Robotic Snakes
The Future of Things
TFOT has previously covered the Snake-Inspired Military Robot, developed by IDF, and Serpentine Climbing Robots, developed by RoMeLa of the College of

Robotic Snakes – The Future of Things
Tue, 22 Sep 2009 22:26:37 GMT

T'ai Chi robots to rule the world? – CNET News

T'ai Chi robots to rule the world?
Humanoid robots developed at the Beijing Institute of Technology can do more than perform T'ai Chi maneuvers and answer simple questions

T'ai Chi robots to rule the world? – CNET News
Tue, 22 Sep 2009 07:36:49 GMT

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