Festo Creates Bionic Kangaroo; Steve Austin Unimpressed



[Dr. Wilfried Stoll] and a team at Festo have created an incredible robot kangaroo. Every few years the research teams at Festo release an amazing animal inspired robot. We last covered their smartbird. This year, they’ve created BionicKangaroo (pdf link). While The Six Million Dollar Man might suggest otherwise, Bionics is use of biological systems in engineering design. In this case, Festo’s engineers spent two years studying the jumping behavior of kangaroos as they perfected their creation.

Kangaroos have some amazing evolutionary adaptations for jumping. Their powerful Achilles tendon stores energy upon landing. This allows the kangaroo to increase its speed with each successive jump. The kangaroo’s tail is essential for balancing the animal as it leaps through the air. The Festo team used a thick rubber band to replicate the action of the tendons. The tail is controlled by electric servomotors.

Festo is known for their pneumatic components, so it’s no surprise that the kangaroo’s legs are driven by pneumatic cylinders. Pneumatics need an air supply though, so the team created two versions of the kangaroo. The first uses an on-board air compressor. The second uses a high-pressure storage tank to drive the kangaroo’s legs. An off the shelf Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) acts as BionicKangaroo’s brain. The PLC monitors balance while controlling the pneumatic leg cylinders and electric tail motors. Unfortunately, BionicKangaroo isn’t completely autonomous. The Thalmic Labs Myo makes a cameo appearance in the video. The Kangaroo’s human controller commands the robot with simple arm movements.

While the BionicKangaroo is graceful in its jumps, it still needs a bit of help when turning and taking simple steps. Thankfully we don’t think it will be boxing anytime soon.

21 thoughts on “Festo Creates Bionic Kangaroo; Steve Austin Unimpressed

    1. Yeah I agree. They have done well but is nothing like a kangaroo in how it moves.
      It’s ‘rat’ like because it has a small tail like a rat and not a thick heavy tail like a kangaroo. You can see in the section of the real kangaroo that it is using it’s tail to oppose the body rotation that would be caused by the forward force of it’s legs. As a result it’s body stays near horizontal and the force vector is focused forward. The other thing a real kangaroos can do is change direction drastically in a single bound. To achieve this they have very powerful claws.

  1. “might suggest otherwise, Bionics is use of biological systems in engineering design.”


    Also, afaik, kangaroos don’t really box. What they’re trying to do is to grab your throat so they can strangle you do death.

    1. And the kicking facilitates this how exactly?

      They scratch and they kick. They don’t strangle, because that’s really hard to do without opposable thumbs.

  2. I think it is….neat, but falls short of “Hells Yeah”. Seems like they cut its range of motion short, like there should be at least 5 inches more push off and absorb.

    How about a HaD bionic flea competition? How far can we launch a turd with 2 legs? Boing. A stupid flea jumps 3 feet. Boing.

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