Crazy, right? But what makes it crazy is that this incredibly dynamic little robot is landing on this teeny tiny foot. In the video, you can see Salto landing on its essentially one-dimensional bar foot, but according to the ICRA paper itís also capable of landing on just a point foot, although its thrusters do struggle a bit to keep it upright. Most of the work on the landing is done by the robot while itís in mid air, using the same hardware from the previous iterationónamely, a spinning inertial tail plus a couple of propeller thrusters for multi-axis stability.
As impressive as the landing is, itís just half of whatís new here. As you saw in the video, the other thing is the better control that Salto now has over where itís going, enabling it to target its jumps to specific places. This capability derives from the combination of precise leaping to targets and balanced landing; they allow Salto to have much finer control of its next jump since it gets a chance to land and accurately aim for its target, as opposed to when itís bouncing. The robot has been able to reduce the standard deviation from its landing target from 9 centimeters all the way down to 1.6 cm, meaning that it can now handle small targets like tree branchesówe canít wait to see that in action.
Admit it - you want to read about hopping robots! In his 1954 novel Lucky Star and the Oceans of Venus, Isaac Asimov knew you would, but they didn't exist yet. So, he writes about the fictional hoppers:
Hoppers are probably the most grotesque forms of transportation ever invented. They consist of a curved body, just large enough to hold a man at the controls. There was a four-bladed rotor above and a single metal leg, rubber-tipped, below. It looked like some giant wading bird gone to sleep with one leg folded under its body. Lucky touched the leap knob and the hopper's leg retracted. Its body sank till it was scarcely seven feet from the ground while the leg moved up into the hollow tube that pierced the hopper just behind the control panel. The leg was released at the moment of maximum retraction with a loud click, and the hopper sprang thirty feet into the air...
STILL not ready to stop reading about hopping robots? Well, jump right into this list: