Salto Jumping Robot Masters Pinpoint Landings
Our favorite jumping robot can now stop jumping
One of the things that we love about UC Berkeley’s Salto jumping robot is just how much better it gets, year after year. And these changes aren’t just incremental—the little robot’s capabilities seem to improve by leaps and bounds, as it were. The latest upgrade, presented at Virtual ICRA 2020 this week, is particularly impressive, since Salto has learned how to very precisely stop jumping exactly where you want it to.
As far as we know, the best way of getting Salto to stop jumping without destroying itself has been for someone with exceptional timing to try and snatch it directly out of the air mid-bounce. While amazing at jumping, Salto hasn’t been particularly good at not-jumping.
As impressive as the landing is, it’s just half of what’s new here. As you saw in the video, the other thing is the better control that Salto now has over where it’s going, enabling it to target its jumps to specific places. This capability derives from the combination of precise leaping to targets and balanced landing; they allow Salto to have much finer control of its next jump since it gets a chance to land and accurately aim for its target, as opposed to when it’s bouncing. The robot has been able to reduce the standard deviation from its landing target from 9 centimeters all the way down to 1.6 cm, meaning that it can now handle small targets like tree branches—we can’t wait to see that in action.
For more details, we spoke with lead author Justin Yim via email. And remember, since this is an ICRA paper, you can view Justin’s video presentation and ask him questions in a dedicated Slack channel here.