Take A Look At This Bouncing, Bionic Kangaroo
Not every robot needs to be the stuff of nightmares. Not every machine needs to stride gleefully through the uncanny valley. Sometimes, it's alright for a machine to just be...well, kinda cute.
Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the BionicKangaroo, a cheerful, bouncing bionic marsupial created by German industrial automation company Festo. The mechanical animal weighs seven kilograms, stands a meter high, and moves about on bladed feet which allow it to bouce 40 centimeters into the air and 80 forward. Sadly, the loveable little machine isn't completely autonomous; it's controlled by an armband that lets someone direct it with a wave of their hands.
Power for its legs is generated by a small internal air compressor, which generates the pressure necessary to launch it into its jumps. Upon landing, springs within the leg blades compress to recapture some of the energy generated by the jump. Though this doesn't allow the kangaroo to hop around without end, it does allow it to maximize its battery life.
The BionicKangaroo is the latest in a line of projects developed by the automation company for its Bionic Learning Network Project. Based out of Esslingten am Neckar, the project aims to learn better ways of gripping, moving, and controlling things in factories. Other creations in the line include a flying SmartBird, a swimming penguin, a bizarre machine that flies by flipping itself inside out, and the self-training elephant trunk covered last month.
BionicKangaroo, in particular, seems like a well-suited design for ground-based autonomous vehicles, as the way it moves would allow it to quickly and easily tackle difficult terrain. That said, I'm not quite certain how its design might be incorporated into larger robots. Ah, well. Something for the designers to figure out - the rest of us can just admire how cool it looks.