Boston Dynamics is at it again.
With help from researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, the innovative engineering company, known for its work on the speedy, record-breaking Cheetah and the four-legged BigDog, which we discussed in an earlier post, has developed yet another talented metal bot: the Sand Flea. Resembling a remote control car no bigger than a shoebox, the 11-pound reconnaissance tool can jump 30 feet into the air over seemingly any barrier fence or wall.
“Anything up to 33 feet, and it’s easier to hop than hover,” Jon Salton, an engineer with Sandia Labs told Wired. “Obviously, this goes places you wouldn’t be able to take a tank — and where it makes more sense to jump instead of fly.”
Don’t believe it? Check out the video that Boston Dynamics posted on March 27:
With an onboard stabilization system to boot, Boston Dynamics reports that the robot keeps oriented during flights—allowing for improved views from the video uplink and controlled landings. According to Wired, “the navigational system is so specific, a soldier can even direct the ‘bot to leap up two stories and right into an open window.” Adding to all of this, the Sand Flea “can make 30 leaps over obstacles 40-60 times its own height before running out of power.”
The US Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF), a group whose mission is to “equip operational commanders with commercial-off-the-shelf and government-off-the-shelf solutions to increase effectiveness and reduce risk,” has funded development for the tiny bot. The little Sand Flea would join more than 2,000 other life-saving robots operating in Afganistan.
Needless to say, these companies are creating bots as cool as the Jetson’s Rosey, the Robot Maid.
Elroy Jetson, Astro, and Rosey the Robot — Image source: squidoo.com