Design

Scientists Made a Robot That Does Parkour

SALTO is a springy machine UC Berkeley researchers created by studying the insane hops of bush babies.
December 7, 2016, 5:15pm
GIF and screencap via

With all the cuteness of the Pixar lamp and the hops of a basketball player, a new robot designed by researchers at UC Berkeley is learning the fine art of freerunning. A team led by Ph. D canditate Duncan Haldane has been studying jumping bush babies in order to design the 10.2"-tall SALTO (short for "saltatorial locomotion on terrain obstacles"). It can leap more than three times its own height from a standstill, then bounce off of a wall like a parkour athlete to fly even higher.

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While SALTO isn't the highest-jumping robot in the world, its double-jump ability sets it apart from designs like TAUB, the locust-inspired bot that can jump 10' in the air—but is very slow and can't stick a landing to save its CPU. In a video put out by UC Berkeley, Haldene explains how SALTO could be adapted for rescue missions in rugged terrain, but more importantly you can see SALTO in action, complete with accompanying parkour troupe. It seems that we'll soon be able to add freerunners to the list of creatve jobs robots are overtaking, along with art critics, newscasters, and artists themselves.

Learn more about SALTO on the UC Berkeley website.

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