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Salto-1P Is the Most Amazing Jumping Robot We’ve Ever Seen

July 18th, 2017 No comments

From IEEE Spectrum

By Evan Ackerman
Posted 29 Jun 2017 | 13:00 GMT

Last December, Duncan Haldane (whose research on incredibly agile bioinspired robots we’ve featured extensively in the past) ended up on the cover of the inaugural issue of Science Robotics with his jumping robot, Salto. Salto had impressive vertical jumping agility, and was able to jump from the ground onto a vertical surface, and then use that surface to change its direction with a second jump. It was very cool to watch, but the jumping was open-loop and planar, meaning that two jumps in a row was just about all that Salto could manage.

Haldane mentioned to us in December that future work on Salto could include chaining together multiple jumps, and in a paper just accepted to the 2017 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), he and co-author Justin Yim at UC Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab, led by Professor Ronald Fearing, show the improvements that they’ve made over the last six months. Thanks to some mechanical fine-tuning and the clever addition of a pair of thrusters, the new Salto-1P is jumping longer, faster, and higher than ever. Prepare to be amazed.

We’ve seen other jumping robots over the years, but Salto-1P takes the cake. Watch this:

Salto is short for “Saltatorial Locomotion on Terrain Obstacles,” a reference to saltatorial animals, which are adapted to locomotion by jumping. Kangaroos and rabbits are a few saltatorial animals that you’re probably familiar with, but Salto was particularly inspired by the galago, or bushbaby, which has a vertical jumping agility that no other animal can match. The galago is able to manage this thanks to a rather clever bit of leg design which uses variable mechanical advantage, leveraging the shape of their leg to amplify the force that their muscles can deliver. For all the details on the jumping ability of the original Salto (and how it’s different from other jumping robots), be sure and read our very in-depth article about it, because this article is focused on the new and upgraded Salto-1P.

The original Salto was able to control its pitch through the use of a rotating inertial tail: By spinning the tail one way, the robot could pitch itself in the other direction. This worked very well, but only in one plane, which made Salto difficult to control. Salto-1P is, according to Haldane, essentially “Salto with half of a mini-quadrotor glued to it.”

Those two little thrusters are able to control Salto-1P’s yaw and roll: When they’re thrusting in different directions, the robot yaws, and when they both thrust in the same direction, the robot rolls. Combined with the tail, that means Salto-1P (which only ways 98 grams) can stabilize and control itself in three dimensions, even in mid-air, which is what allows it to chain together so many jumps. Other hardware modifications include a deeper crouch than the original Salto, which allows more energy to be transferred from the jumping motor into the spring, giving it the highest vertical jumping agility of any battery powered robot at 1.83 m/s.

Haldane says one issue that came when they redesigned the leg mechanism to allow the robot to jump higher is that, as he puts it, “Salto lost its friendly and forgiving nature.” The robot would occasionally “fire pieces of itself across the room when the motor tore the leg-mechanism apart.” They had to do revise the design to keep everything in one piece. The video below is a compilation of Salto-1P’s “little acts of self-destruction”:

The software that Salto-1P is running to make all of this work is an adaptation of Marc Raibert’s hopping controller from 1984. Raibert’s 3D One-Leg Hopper weighed 170 times more than Salto-1P, and can’t jump nearly as high, but fundamentally the algorithm works just as well on Salto as it did on Raibert’s hopper more than 30 years ago. However, controlling Salto-1P involves some unique challenges, because the robot spends so little time on the ground. In fact, 92 percent of the time, the robot is in the air, which means that you really have to control it in the air, which is why the tail and thrusters are necessary (as opposed to control through the leg and foot).

This results in enormous accelerations (on the order of 14 g’s), and to put this in context, Haldane compares Salto-1P to a cheetah: The robot has “a lower duty cycle than a single cheetah limb at top speed,” he says, adding: “Imagine a cheetah running at top speed using only one leg, and then cut the amount of time that leg spends on the ground in half. That’s the duty factor of Salto-1P.”
“Imagine a cheetah running at top speed using only one leg, and then cut the amount of time that leg spends on the ground in half. That’s the duty factor of Salto-1P.” —Duncan Haldane, UC Berkeley

It’s important to note that when you see Salto-1P bouncing around in the video, it’s doing so untethered, but not completely autonomously: There’s a bunch of stuff going on in the background to get it to perform the way it does. The path it follows relies on motion capture, with an offboard computer (though not a particularly powerful one) receiving tracking data and wirelessly sending control commands to the robot.

“Motion capture is an easy way to track the robot that freed us up to work more on the robot mechanics,” co-author Justin Yim explains. “It’s also useful for gathering performance data since we can very closely track Salto-1P throughout its hopping.” It’s also worth noting that Salto-1P isn’t doing a lot of sensing on its own, and it’s still able to handle all those obstacles at the end of the video, which is impressive.

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Watch “Tonight Showbotics: Snakebot, Sophia, eMotion Butterflies” on YouTube

May 30th, 2017 No comments

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Article: This Robot Completes a 2-Hour Brain Surgery Procedure in Just 2.5 Minutes

May 7th, 2017 No comments

This Robot Completes a 2-Hour Brain Surgery Procedure in Just 2.5 Minutes

http://flip.it/–f32R

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National Robotics Week!

April 8th, 2017 No comments

Its National Robotics week! https://www.nationalroboticsweek.org/

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SRI’s Pioneering Mobile Robot Shakey Honored as IEEE Milestone – IEEE Spectrum

February 28th, 2017 No comments
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Boston Dynamics Officially Unveils Its Wheel-Leg Robot: “Best of Both Worlds” – IEEE Spectrum

February 28th, 2017 No comments
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Robot Football Player

October 16th, 2016 No comments

How a Robot Football Player Will Prevent Concussions
from IEEE Spectrum

Read Story Here

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AI on 60 Minutes

October 11th, 2016 No comments

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My Maker Faires are so Important for Our Kids

May 26th, 2016 No comments

From: Time Magazine
By: Tim Bajarin
May 23, 2016

They help interest children in the fields of the future

This weekend, I hopped on a train for my annual trek to Maker Faire, held this year at the San Mateo Events Center. Over 150,000 people attended this year’s show, coming to check out new drones, 3D printers, robots and more.

This particular event is the granddaddy of Maker Faires, started by Maker Media and its visionary founder Dale Dougherty. It bills itself as the greatest “Show and Tell on Earth.” (There’s a National Faire in Washington, D.C., a New York event, and global Faires in France, Germany, Tokyo and more.)

I’ve long been following the Maker Movement as a part of my overall interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. These shows have become increasingly important as a means to introduce kids to these fields. At Maker Faires, children get hands-on experience with electronic gadgets, from programming to soldering. Kids can play with robotic kits, try building a drone and generally tinker with all sorts of gizmos.

Maker Faires typically feature dozens of speakers from the technology world who share details about what they’re doing and how it relates to the Maker Movement. As one walks around these shows, you see kids excited to learn about technology and making things. This year’s show also included booths from major sponsors like Intel, Google, Microsoft and more.

One new exhibitor at this year’s Bay Area event was the Department of Energy, who wanted to give kids the chance to interact with its scientists and to try to get them involved in the future of energy. “Kids are untapped resources that will help deal with climate change, energy issues and the environment,” said Jetta Wong, director of the DoE’s Office of Technology Transition. (U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz recently blogged about the subject.)

Still, one concern of mine about the Bay Area Maker Faire is that very few minorities attend this show. This is not the fault of the folks who manage the Maker Faire, as they work extremely hard to make this event inclusive. In fact, on Friday, the first day of the show, they and sponsors LinkedIn, RoboTerra and ThinkLogix brought over 4,000 students from underserved communities to the show to see demos and play with the various projects. However, this underscores the fact that the tech community as a whole has to work harder to get kids of all genders, races and ethnicity interested in STEM, as these scientific disciplines will open up new opportunities for them in the future.

The Maker Faires’ true importance lies in its focus on getting kids interested in making things. Over the last few years, I have written multiple pieces on STEM focusing on how companies around the world are backing STEM-based programs. All of them see how important these disciplines will be in the future. Still more germane to them is the real concern that if we cannot get kids trained in the sciences, we will not have the engineers and scientists to run our companies in the future.

Indeed, just about every business is having to rely more and more on the role technology plays in their world. The need to get this generation of students interested in STEM and tech has become a priority for companies, educators and parents. To that end, these Maker Faires, along with the tireless efforts of teachers, educators and companies rallying around STEM, can plant seeds of interest and help cultivate these future scientists and engineers. If they are successful they will create the next generation of leaders who will guide and power the businesses, schools and homes of tomorrow.


Tim Bajarin is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc and has been with the company since 1981 where he has served as a consultant providing analysis to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry

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National Robotics League – Building America’s technology leaders, one robot at a time

May 23rd, 2016 No comments

I am not a big fan of “Battle Bots” but I am in favor of anything that gets kids excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The National Robotics League (http://gonrl.org/) looks to be a battle bots event for High School Kids started by the National Tooling and Machining Association.

I don’t like the fact that the bot is destroyed as part of the competition, but if an interest in STEM lasts, then it is worth it!

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