The Precision Urban Hopper, a hopping robot under development at Boston Dynamics, is now at the "prototype has Internet video" stage. I wrote about this little robot this past spring, when it was just a gleam in DARPA's eye (see Precision Urban Hopper Robot Must 'Stick' Landings). The final version will be able to navigate autonomously by wheel and jump over obstacles of 25 feet or more.
“The Precision Urban Hopper is part of a broad effort to bolster the capabilities of troops and special forces engaged in urban combat, giving them new ways to operate unfettered in the urban canyon,” Jon Salton, Sandia program manager, said.
The demonstrated hopping capability of the robots allows the small unmanned ground vehicles to overcome as many as 30 obstacles that are 40-60 times their own size. Hopping mobility has been shown to be five times more efficient than hovering when traversing obstacles at heights under 10 meters, which allows longer station-keeping time for the same amount of fuel.
The wheeled robotic platform adapts to the urban environment in real time and provides precision payload deployment to any point of the urban jungle while remaining lightweight and small. Researchers addressed several technical challenges, including appropriate management of shock forces during landing, controlling hop height from varying terrain including concrete, asphalt, sand and vegetation and controlling landings to limit tumbling.