Harvard researchers have created an unthethered jumping soft robot

A soft robot that uses an “explosive actuator” to propel itself? Yes, please. IEEE features a weird flesh-tone silicone robot, created by Harvard researchers, that could come straight out of a Cronenberg/Gilliam/Carpenter Mashup. Fortunately, the jumps are still very imprecise. Nevertheless, robotic facehuggers!!!11!

The robot’s three legs can be inflated pneumatically, which allows it to orient itself to control the direction of launch. Once it’s pointing the right way, butane (from an internal canister) and oxygen (generated from a mixture of manganese and hydrogen peroxide) are injected into the springy looking appendage at the bottom. A spark is produced, which ignites the mixture, causing an explosion that launches the robot 0.6 meter (7.5 times its body height) into the air. It’s important to note that everything required for the robot to orient and jump is on-board: this is completely untethered and independent of any external infrastructure.

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