World’s first ‘robot kangaroo’ created to inspire future engineers

Engineers working in biomimetics – the area of science that draws from designs and systems in the natural world – have recently produced what’s been described as the world’s first robot kangaroo.

The remarkable creation can accurately mimic the movement of the leaping marsupial and, like the actual animal, recovers energy when jumping, storing it for subsequent jumps.

Festo, the German-based team of engineers behind the bionic kangaroo, explains on its website that its creation incorporates pneumatic and electrical drive technology with a lightweight construction which helps produce a highly dynamic system, resulting in an incredibly agile and stable piece of machinery.

Indeed, the main technical challenge for its designers was to prevent the bouncing bot from tipping over on landing, a feat achieved by fine-tuning the movement of its hips and tail. While the pneumatic element provides the thrust for the jumps, the electrical drive allows for fine control of the machine.

According to the BBC’s Dougal Shaw, the team behind the robotic kangaroo has produced the 1-meter-tall contraption as a tool to show aspiring engineers the power of biomimetics.

Based in southern Germany and founded almost one hundred years ago, Festo is evidently no novice when it comes to such pneumatic and automation technology. Its research and development department appears to be highly active, too, with the company claiming to create around a hundred new products annually.

Another nature-inspired piece of work by the team includes its Bionic Handling Assistant flexible gripper, based on the movement of an elephant’s trunk (below).

Bionic Handling Assistant flexible gripper

[Source: Festo, BBC]

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