Meet Salto. Arguably, the world’s most agile jumping robot. Its creators looked all over the animal kingdom for inspiration. Salto’s legs bend like a bush baby’s— a small primate that appears to have the greatest jumping agility of all. Salto has a tail like the leaping Agama lizard. To control direction. The designers even took a few tips from humans and video game characters. In real life parkour and many virtual games, players run and bounce off walls to propel themselves higher than their legs ever could. That’s Salto’s best trick. It’s called the wall-jump. First, the robot crouches, then launches itself toward the wall, reorients mid leap and then jumps again Reaching a height greater than it could with a single jump That initial crouch is what makes or breaks the jump. Salto’s crouch is more like a super-crouch. The robot stays low just long enough to build up energy and uses it to explode off the ground. Charging up before launch is called “power modulation.” Animals that can do it store the built-up energy in their tendons. Salto stores it in a spring. In bush babies, this makes their jumps 15 times more powerful than if they used muscular action alone. But, despite their efforts, Salto can’t best the bush baby. Its jumps are 22% less powerful than the cuddly
creature’s. Even still, this is a giant leap for robot-kind.