UC Berkeley Roboticists Build SALTO, the Most Vertically Agile Robot

Posted on December 7, 2016

SALTO leaping robot from UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley roboticists have designed SALTO. The roboticists say SALTO is the world's most vertically agile robot ever built. It has 78% of the vertical jumping ability of a Galago, an African primate also known as a bushbaby. The Galago can jump five times in just four seconds to gain a combined height of 8.5 meters (27.9 feet).

SALTO stands for saltatorial locomotion on terrain obstacles. Salto's robotic vertical jumping agility is 1.75 meters per second, which is higher than the vertical jumping agility of a bullfrog (1.71 meters per second) but short of the vertical jumping agility of the galago (2.24). The researchers hope that robots like SALTO will be used to jump around rubble in search and rescue missions in the future.

Duncan Haldane, a robotics Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley, who led the work, says in a statement, "Developing a metric to easily measure vertical agility was key to Salto's design because it allowed us to rank animals by their jumping agility and then identify a species for inspiration."

SALTO was inspired by the galago. The developers created a robot that mimics the galago's crouch. The robot uses power modulation to jump without needing to wind up. A research paper on SALTO was published here in the debut issue of the Science Robotics journal. Here is a video of SALTO in action:

Photo: Stephen McNally