Tiny robot able to reorient itself during jumps using actuated tail (w/ Video)

Aug 16, 2013 by Bob Yirka report

(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at Michigan State University has built a tiny robot (called the TailBot) that is capable of moving itself around on wheels, jumping and also manipulating its body while in mid-air (using its using actuated tail) to assist in a safe and controlled landing. The researchers note that others have built robots with similar abilities but to date, it is their belief that this is the first instance where all three abilities have been implemented in one robot.

As the researchers note, jumping is a very efficient way to avoid in the animal world or to get around obstacles—it consumes far less energy than maneuvering around an obstacle or taking flight. Other jumping robots have been built but on a much larger scale. The TailBot weighs just 28 grams and is a minuscule 6.5 centimeters tall. A smaller robot allows for jumping higher relative to its body size, and for surviving the impact once it returns back to Earth. The TailBot is able leap up into the air as high as 10 times its own body size. By modifying its mid leap, it can prevent being damaged when it falls back down, as well as making sure it lands right side up, ensuring that it can move around again.

All in all, the way the robot moves is both unique and interesting. It can roll around via wheels on flat surfaces in a lying down position (looking sort of like someone pedaling a recumbent bicycle). When it "wants" to hop, it pushes itself up into a standing position. Once upright, it crouches then releases, launching itself into the air. While it's airborne, it moves its tail to change its center of gravity, allowing it to land in its lying down position. Also, once upright, if the robot wants to lie down (to roll around again) it uses its tail to do so in a reasonably graceful manner.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Possible uses for such a might include search and rescue (because it can get around objects in its path), exploration of unknown terrain (such as on another planet) or perhaps simply as a new kind of toy.

Explore further: DALER project shows a walking flying robot (w/ Video)

More information: www.egr.msu.edu/~zhaojia1/doku.php?id=tailbot
Controlling Aerial Maneuvering of a Miniature Jumping Robot Using Its Tail: www.egr.msu.edu/~zhaojia1/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=tailbot_iros2013.pdf

Related Stories

DALER project shows a walking flying robot (w/ Video)

Aug 04, 2013

(Phys.org) —At the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems we are developing a novel flying platform which has the ability to move on the ground by using its wings only. Using the wings as whegs to move on rough ...

3D printer-built robot has insect moves (w/ Video)

Aug 03, 2013

(Phys.org) —Some robotics experts focused on biomimicry have turned to work in tech hives where their tiny robots are designed to imitate the moves of insects. At UC Berkleley's Biomimetic Millisystems ...

Recommended for you

A robot dives into search for Malaysian Airlines flight

Apr 18, 2014

In the hunt for signs of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370—which disappeared on March 8 after deviating for unknown reasons from its scheduled flight path—all eyes today turn to a company that got its start ...

Simplicity is key to co-operative robots

Apr 16, 2014

A way of making hundreds—or even thousands—of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks without using any memory or processing power has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Students turn $250 wheelchair into geo-positioning robot

Apr 16, 2014

Talk about your Craigslist finds! A team of student employees at The University of Alabama in Huntsville's Systems Management and Production Center (SMAP) combined inspiration with innovation to make a $250 ...

Using robots to study evolution

Apr 14, 2014

A new paper by OIST's Neural Computation Unit has demonstrated the usefulness of robots in studying evolution. Published in PLOS ONE, Stefan Elfwing, a researcher in Professor Kenji Doya's Unit, has succes ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...