Volume 22 Issue 7/8 - Publication Date: 1 July - August 2003
Special Issue on the 3rd International Conference on Field and Service Robotics
Minimalist Jumping Robots for Celestial Exploration
J. Burdick Mechanical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA and P. Fiorini Dipartimento di Informatica, Universitá di Verona, Verona, Italy 37134

In this paper we describe a novel approach to the design and deployment of small and minimally actuated jumping or hopping robots that are suitable for exploring the unstructured terrains of celestial bodies. We introduce the basic jumping mobility paradigm, as well as the evolution of our hopping robot concept by way of the main prototypes that we have developed.

These prototypes show that a small number of actuators can control the vehicle's steering, hopping, and self-righting motions. The last prototype is equipped with wheels so that precision motion can be combined with gross hopping motion. Lessons learned during the development of these prototypes have general applicability to the design of jumping robots. In addition to reviewing the issues relevant to the design of jumping systems, in this paper we describe some of the key mechanisms that enable our approach, we summarize tests obtained with these systems, and we present our future plans of localization and sensing for hopping mobility.
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