Robots have so many uses. They can carry absurdly heavy loads, perform repetitive tasks, get into situations that are too hazardous to send humans into, and eventually they’re going to take over the world and enslave us all. And then there are robots that seem to serve absolutely no practical utilitarian purpose whatsoever. This robotic kangaroo robot definitely belongs to this second category.
Developed by the German engineers at a firm called Festo, BionicKangaroo is designed to mimic the realistic movements and jump mechanics of a real life kangaroo. As you can see from this video, the creation has definitely accomplished this goal. Kangaroos are able to take the energy from one jump and roll it over into the next one and so on. This makes their movements very efficient, keeping them from growing too tired too quickly, and in this manner they can move incredibly fast for extended lengths of time.
Instead of using strong tendons, like its living counterpart, BionicKangaroo uses a series of elastic springs that are able to “charge” after each jump. With this device in place, the robot can jump nearly half a meter high, and more than .8 meters per stride, not bad for a mechanical animal that tips the scales at a meager 7 kilograms. Powered by a small compressor and a set of lightweight batteries, the device uses pneumatic pressure through the “muscles to extend its legs and propel its body forward.
While all of this is pretty damn neat, by far the coolest part of BionicKangaroo is how you control it movements. You wear an armband, devised by Thalmic Labs, and depending on your gestures, you can make it come, stop, sit, spin, and there are probably even more tricks that you aren’t featured here. It’s like having a robotic, marsupial-shaped dog to play around with, and there’s not much other reason for this than to have one of these things in your own personal robot collection.
This isn’t Festo’s first faux-animal rodeo, not by a long shot. These are, after all, the same people who are responsible for manufacturing the robotic seagull, because, you know, no one loves any animal as much as they love seagulls, and we certainly need more of them around, crapping in our hair and on our cars.
And wouldn’t you know it, Festo is also the firm who created the robotic manta ray that actually swims, damn near flying through the water.
Though there aren’t many day-to-day uses for BionicKangaroo, if you have an abundance of discretionary income, what the hell, pick one up. Play with it in your front yard for a while, see what kind of looks you get from your neighbors.