Stories

This robot mimics a bushbaby to jump four times its height

Image via WIRED video

Roboticists at the University of California created a one-legged robot that "can out-jump LeBron [James]," Wired reports. Salto, the tiny robot, can jump four times its size thanks to technology that mimics bushbaby animals, which are only 7 to 8 inches but can jump over 7 feet high.

"The basic idea is that these jumping animals are just better at crouching," Duncan Haldane, the roboticist behind Salto, told Wired. "They have a better crouched posture, which lets their muscles store a lot of energy in their tendons and then release it later to power really, really high jumps." Haldane eventually wants to use it for search-and-rescue efforts.

One fun thing: Although it mimics a bushbaby, Salto only has one leg because Haldane "wanted to see how far you could push a robot with one leg." As Wired notes: "Evolution methodically shaped the bushbaby over millions of years, but that doesn't mean you have to design a perfect mimic to harness the animal's powers."