3D-Printed Explosive Jumping Robot Combines Firm and Squishy Parts

By Evan Ackerman

At IROS last year, we met a curious looking fleshy-appendaged explosive jumping robot from the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory. When we asked the researchers about their plans for the future, they talked about “an entirely different design, and capable of either self-righting or reliably landing upright, enabling multiple successive jumps.” Now the Harvard team, in collaboration with UCSD researchers, has completed that redesign, creating a robot that can jump and land upright, which is totally cool. What’s equally cool is how they did it: with a multimaterial 3D printer that lets them fabricate a robot with the optimal combination of soft and rigid structures.

First, let’s take a look at how this robot jumps. “Explosive” doesn’t just refer to the dynamic nature of the jump; it’s an actual butane-oxygen explosion that gets this thing off the ground. Listen for the pop:  ….[Read more]