Sand Flea Literally Leaps Tall Buildings In A Single Bound

The hidden abilities of this robot that is no larger than a dinner plate are quite impressive. It doesn’t let an obstacle like a building get in its way. The Sand Flea, like its namesake, posses a remarkable jumping ability. When it encounters a tall obstruction two levers incline the front of the robot and it launches itself up to thirty feet in the air. In the case of a one-story build this means it will end up on the roof, and it’ll do so much quicker and more reliably than any wall climber we’ve seen.

It’s being developed for the US Army by Boston Dynamics, and this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the concept. But the video after the break gives a much better look than the grainy twenty-second clip from last year. Of course they’re not giving up too many details so we have to guess a bit. We’d wager the launching mechanism is a solenoid, but at about eleven pounds you need a lot of juice to get that much of a jump. We suppose it’s also possible that there’s an explosive system like the butane combustion used in a framing nailer. The video summary mentions that there’s a stabilization system to keep the body oriented during flight. That’s got to be a gyroscope. Let us know what you think in the comments.


[Thanks BetaLyte]

38 thoughts on “Sand Flea Literally Leaps Tall Buildings In A Single Bound

  1. It looks like it’s something that needs to be recharged. I dont see a single shot that shows 2 launches, even though they could have shown that up on the roof. I’m guessing precharged, compressed air.

    1. Thanks for the link. 25 jumps per CO2 charge is impressive. The need for stable orientation for video during the jump seems to be one objective being met as well. Could fend them off though with a gas powered leaf blower :)

      1. Seeing they develop this stuff for the military I would expect the operational version would have some equipment on it, sensors? Camera? Or explosives even, and would be heavier and would not make 25 jumps.
        I wonder if a heavier one could be made to jump equally high come to think of it.

  2. First thought no F’in way, then far out.. I’ll be damned. Not very stealthy for use in a war zone as suggested in the spectrum article. I wonder how long it will be for we see a home shop builder duplicate this?

  3. Does anybody at hackaday even try anymore?
    From the datasheet on boston dynamics website:
    -Gyro Stabilized
    -Dispoable fuel cartridge for ‘hops’
    -25 hops/cartridge
    -2hr run time

  4. Downvote for making me sit through 1 min of video zoomed so close I could not enjoy the beauty of the project and only giving me FIVE lousy seconds of video that was not zoomed all the way to kingdom come.

    But other than that A1 project bro, love it.

  5. I can see special forces or EOD using one of these to place C4 in hard to reach places. Imagine it could hop through a window with a satchel charge. It could then hop out and drive away.

    BOOM…Building is cleared.

    Police could use this for flash bangs or tear gas. I could see lots of uses for this.

  6. I wonder if these things could be fitted with a detatchable parachute module so you could drop them out of a high altitude plane over the area of operation. That would be very useful for exploring dangerous areas like the Japanese power plants of recent times, without placing humans in jeopardy.

    I assume they wouldn’t survive hitting concrete at terminal velocity without a parachute.

    Anyway I want to see one of these things leap into the open doorway of a passing Blackhawk chopper. :D

    1. With the gyroscope and the wheels that can correct for in air orientation, I bet the body could be designed to “float” down slow enough as to not shatter.

      Squirrel suit?

    2. With the gyroscope and wheels that can correct for in air orientation I bet that the body could designed to “float” down slow enough as not to shatter on impact.

      Squirrel suit?

    1. Good luck getting to 6-800 odd PSI (assuming Co2 anyways) with a pump that small.

      It would kill the run time too, possibly making any more than 25 jumps worthless.

  7. I actually saw SandFlea at Boston Dynamics’ booth at the FIRST Robotics Championship in St. Louis last weekend, and I noticed a port on the front of the robot labelled “PROPANE,” so I asked one of the guys working at the booth about it and he said that the cylinder runs on compressed propane. Maybe another version runs on CO2, but the one I saw was clearly propane. I was sad they didn’t do a demo of it :( haha. They were driving RHex, though! very cool…

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