More bounce to the ounce: Mini-robot attracts attention

Apr 20, 2012 By Mark Fellows
A prototype jumping robot developed by computer and electrical engineering professor Ning Xi and graduate student Jianguo Zhao. Credit: G.L. Kohuth

A steerable, jumping mini-robot developed by Michigan State University researchers is generating interest among robotics engineers, who don’t let its small size obscure its potential.

The tiny device, exhibited at MSU’s April 11 Innovation Celebration, uses a pager motor to hop several feet in the air like a locust, then right itself after landing for another jump. Power comes from a small photo cell.

The intent is to apply microfabrication technology to make it even smaller, said University Distinguished Professor Ning Xi of the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering, who directs the department’s Robotics and Automation Laboratory. Graduate student Jianguo Zhao helped develop the under Xi’s supervision.

Such tiny, mobile devices – think swarms -- could be fitted with micro-sensors or communications networking equipment and deployed across rugged war zones or disaster areas that are unsuitable for wheeled robots, Xi explained. The next challenge is to give it water-hopping capability, he said.

Originally developed with funding from the National Science Foundation and then developed under commercial contract, Xi hopes to license the technology to government or commercial organizations. A news report and video can be viewed here.

Explore further: Robots recognize humans in disaster environments

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User comments : 5

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RhabbKnotte
not rated yet Apr 20, 2012
Really? No one has a video?
RhabbKnotte
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2012
OK, go here to see the video! Oh sorry, I can only post once every 3 minutes so I don't flood your system. It's not like there was already a video link on here! Let me try it NOW!

http://spectrum.i...ne-motor
mortoo
not rated yet Apr 20, 2012
Thanks for posting that link. The robot is a lot cooler in action - the way it uses a single motor to jump, steer and right itself.
hb_
1 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2012
Why do they even call it a robot? It cannot walk, it cannot see, it cannot manipulate objects.. What is the point?

Back in the days, one would have called this a mechanical contraption, or a toy, but never a robot.
foolspoo
1 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2012
cool little ROBOT. a mechanical contraption controlled automatically.