If you watch science fiction movies, the robots of the future look like us. The truth is, though, many tasks go better when robots don’t look like us. Sometimes they are unique to a particular job or sometimes it is useful to draw inspiration from something other than a human being. One professor at Johns Hopkins along with some students decided to look at spider crickets as an inspiration for a new breed of jumping robots.
Over eight months, the students studied the kinematics of how the crickets could jump up to 60 times their body length and land on their feet. Granted, 60 times their body length is only about 2.5 feet, but if they were human-sized that would equate to jumping across an entire US football field.
By using high-speed video cameras (up to 400 frames per second) to determine how the wingless crickets manage these huge jumps. They apparently use their limbs and antennae to stabilize themselves during flight. They also streamline their bodies to maximize their jump distance. The researchers have created computerized models that replicate the cricket’s jumping motions. They hope to use this knowledge and these models to design high-jumping robots to travel over rough terrain without the expense of building a fully flying robot.
We’ve seen some insect-inspired robots, of course. We even recall a Russian robotic cockroach. While we’ve seen a jumping robot called a sandflea, we didn’t think the way it jumped mimicked its namesake. You can see the crickets leap in the video below. Then find some shape memory alloy, start a Hackaday.io project and start building.