Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered a simple technique to build robots that save energy – have them jump.
The key is dividing the jump into two parts, which the researchers call a “stutter jump.”
"If we time things right, the robot can jump with a tenth of the power required to jump to the same height under other conditions,” Daniel Goldman, an assistant professor of physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, told Zee News.
Goldman said that splitting the jump into two parts required less energy than a single jump.
"In the stutter jumps, we can move the mass at a lower frequency to get off the ground. We achieve the same takeoff velocity as a conventional jump, but it is developed over a longer period of time with much less power,” he said.
The researchers built the robot out of a spring and a weight on a thrust rod. They could vary the position of the weight using a computer. In addition to the position of the weight, the researchers could also adjust the amplitude of the motion, the frequency and the pattern of the movement.
While physics-minded readers might think the optimal jump would come from the robot’s resonant frequency, the researchers found that the best jumps came from frequencies both above and below the resonant frequency. They then discovered the “stutter jump” strategy.
This staggered jump allows for robots that require less power, less powerful batteries and therefore lighter weight.
"If you're a small robot and you want to jump over an obstacle, you could save energy by using the stutter jump even though that would take longer,” said Daniel Goldman, an assistant professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “But if a hazard is threatening, you may need to expend the additional energy to make a quick jump to get out of the way.”
Edited by Braden Becker