3-D–printed body helps jumping robot land on its feet | Science News

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3-D–printed body helps jumping robot land on its feet

Mix of soft and rigid plastics lets bot bounce, keep parts in place

2:00pm, July 9, 2015
jumping robot

BOUNCING BOT A 3-D–printed body made from a combination of rubbery and rigid plastics lets a jumping robot push off the ground while keeping mechanical bits secure. 

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A soft-and-stiff body puts a spring in a new jumping robot’s step.

The body, made from a rubbery-to-rigid gradient of plastic, helps the bot bounce high and stick its landings, while offering mechanical bits a supportive base, researchers report in the July 10 Science.  

Explosions sparked inside the bot force its stretchy belly to balloon downward, launching it off the ground. The soft belly transitions to a stiff top that anchors the bot’s guts in place. An earlier version of the robot was mostly rubbery (SN:11/1/14, p.11), so parts sometimes jiggled loose during jumps, says study coauthor Michael Tolley, a mechanical engineer at the University of California, San Diego. That bot also tended to land on its head.

So Tolley and

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