It's not as sexy as BigDog or PETMAN, but unlike the other military robots, the newest unmanned ground robot to go into production for the military is not morphed from a dog or a man.
Forgive its dull appearance. It is only intenced to leap! On one "mightly leg," as the Sandia National Laboratories puts
it, the Precision Urban Hopper can jump onto or over 25 feet. I have no clue which of the legs is the mighty one.
The Hopper that "leaps tall buildings in a single bound" will indeed be Superman to thousands of real live ground troops in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is lightweight and small and can easily be carried with the soldiers and deployed when needed to scout out the situations that lie ahead in urban jungles, be they surface obstacles or combat ones.
But the Precision Urban Hopper, which was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is not only a potential life-saver for combat troops. The Hopper will likely have an important role "in law enforcement, homeland security, search and rescue, and in planetary exploration," according to Jon Salton, project manager at Sandia.
Boston Dynamics, developer of BigDog and PETMAN, was awarded the contract to develop the Precision Urban Hopper.
Big Dog was developed as a "mule" robot to accompany troops on the move.
PETMAN, an anthropomorphic robot, tests protective clothing developed by the US Army for troops.
The Hopper is scheduled to see combat by late 2010.
Sources: Sandia National Laboratories, Boston Dynamics via RDMag