Sandia Labs “Hopper” Robot

Made by Boston Dynamics under contract from Sandia Labs, this “hopper” is quite incredible as you can see in the video after the break. Boston Dynamics is no stranger to great robotics designs, including the well known “Big Dog” four-legged robot. This robot, although possibly less advanced, has a very unique trick up it’s sleve.

This robot’s distinguishing feature is that it can navigate autonomously not only with wheels, but also with a powerful single leg that allows it to jump over obstacles of up to 25 feet. Although envisioned to “deliver a payload” in an urban environment, one could imagine a terrifying  horde of these ‘bots jumping into action armed with bombs or other weapons.

According to Sandia’s website is that this form of locomotion has been “shown to be five times more efficient than hovering” when trying to get around obstacles under 10 meters. Technical challenges that have been overcome include managing the shock of landing and producing a leg powerful enough to jump to this height.


  1. Hackerspacer says:

    “shown to be five times more efficient than hovering”

    Also shown to make my bullshit meter go off.

    The launching action reminds me of Toro’s compressed gas “launcher” from the Battlebot show….

  2. DOT850 says:

    Good god, that is awesome.

  3. The Ideanator says:

    Leaps tall buildings in a single bound!

  4. Tempestion says:

    I was under the impression that “Big Dog” was Boston Dynamics?

  5. madcows says:

    I’m sure Sandia Labs just slapped their logo on some long-forgotten Nikko RC car.

  6. space says:


  7. Will says:

    While cool, this is not a new concept or even a new robot. There are articles online dating to May of 2009 with pictures of this exact robot and I’m pretty sure I saw the above video (or one almost identical to it) even before that.

    If I remember correctly, it could leap really well, but the aiming part… let’s just say the out-take reel was classic.

  8. third says:


    Exactly! I wonder where Sandia got the Big Dog credit from…

    In fact, back when the founders of Boston Dynamics were still with LegLab they did some pretty awesome stuff with jumping robots:

  9. RJ says:

    This is like 3 or 4 years old by now guys. Kmon – you are better than that.

  10. Someonecool says:


    Holy crap some of that stuff is awesome. The way it flips is insane. You can hear the cheering from the video when it flipped, so I guess these people really put in a lot of work into that project.

    From the youtube comments:
    “so. how have our millions of funding dollars been spent then?”

    “well, we got this box on 2 legs, it can do flips and shit”

    That actually made me laugh :P

  11. ian says:

    Big Dog is Boston Dynamics, _not_ Sandia Labs.

    @HaD, you might want to fix that…

  12. tooth says:

    some how the robot video lead me to the six million dollar man and i sat and watched Six Million Dollar Man (Bigfoot). then i totally forgot what i was going to say.

  13. Hirudinea says:

    I could see this being useful on a mars rover, if it gets stuck in a hole just hit the leg and BOOM its free! (Just hope it dosn’t land in another hole!) But since it has only one leg what happens if it lands on its “back”?

  14. ZeUs says:

    Lol this video is so old XD
    I wonder if this is how long the hackaday logs actually go and this blog entry’s content was new when this was written. Most of the blogs were launched automatically some time [further comment deleted per CIA request]

  15. Otacon2k says:

    @third: tjanks for the awesome video. I wasn’t aware of that. What a giant nerdgasmic cumpilation.
    This night I’m gonna count hopping robots instead of sheep…

  16. Polymath says:

    The only thing its missing is a little speaker so it can scream “GERONIMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” every time it clears a fence. Or every time it spots an intruder. It screams, they freeze, and it whacks them in the head.

  17. toodlestech says:

    Super old news.

  18. FMX4LIFE says:

    All is fun and games until you try to jump while driving on soft dirt or sand.

  19. asheets says:

    @madcows — Wouldn’t be the first time our govt pulled a stunt like that. When NASA was testing Space Shuttle tires, they needed a way to safely deflate them before they exploded. Their solution? An toy RC tank with a drill mounted to it.

  20. strider_mt2k says:

    It might be old, but I ain’t seen it.

    And when I did I said, “Get the F out of here” right out loud by myself.


  21. Jeremy Cook says:

    @ Tempestian – yeah, Boston Dynamics made the Big Dog – Corrected.

  22. DudeGuy says:

    I totally thought this would be cool when I was in the 3rd-4th grade. Back when it was all about RC Cars.

  23. KillerBug says:

    They need to refine this concept and apply it to larger vehicles so I can jump my car over red lights!

    …Of course, it would probably be safer to just run the light.

  24. henry says:

    old news is old

  25. Hack Cell says:

    Had this idea forever ago.

  26. mixup2010 says:

    They already showed this ages ago

  27. JRR says:

    @Hack Cell – I had the idea for a fully human-looking robot that passed the Turing test ages ago. Therefore if anyone ever designs one, it’s old news and a ripoff of my idea. ;)

    Yeah, these are old but it’s still impressive. If this is done with public funding, hopefully the algorithms and such are available to everyone to use and improve on, otherwise it shouldn’t be publicly funded.

  28. Whatnot says:

    The video was uploaded to youtube September 2009, so yeah this news is a bit dated and people aren’t just being negative or talking about the concept alone.

  29. SG says:

    If you’re all too worried about being geek chic to recognize that a design three or four years old can still be relevant, you should probably stop using ethernet.

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