In the robot world, RHex is a bit of a showoff. Sure–like other artificially intelligent friends, he can walk just fine. But his athletic prowess extends beyond mere mobility to jumping gaps between picnic tables, doing pullups, and scaling walls with the help of his curvy, talon-like feet.
“What we want is a robot that can go anywhere, even over terrain that might be broken and uneven,” says Aaron Johnson, an engineering graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania who co-created RHex in collaboration with professor Daniel Koditschek at his Kod*Lab. “These latest jumps greatly expand the range of what this machine is capable of, as it can now jump onto or across obstacles that are bigger than it is.”
The machine–a robot hexapod, given its six legs–could be used one day for search and rescue missions in rugged terrain, collapsed buildings, and disaster zones, thanks to its versatile range of motion. (And who wouldn’t want this flipping, hopping, jumping robot coming to their rescue?) Look out for RHex in the 2016 Olympics.