Boinggg… military robot jumps 25 feet high

A new military robot has been developed in the US that can hop 25 feet high.

The shoebox-sized Precision Urban Hopper normally gets around on four wheels. But when it reaches an obstacle, it can use its one, mighty, piston-activated leg to propel it onto or over objects more than 25 feet high. There’s a rather amusing video with the press release, here.

The GPS-guided vehicles can overcome as many as 30 obstacles that are 40-60 times their own size. While it might sound daft, hopping is apparently five times more efficient than hovering when crossing obstacles under 10 meters high.

The Precision Urban Hopper was developed by Boston Dynamics for Sandia National Laboratories, and funded by the US’s military research organisation, Darpa.  Its designers had to consider varying surfaces, such as concrete or sand, and avoid it smashing on impact, tumbling or bouncing.

“The Precision Urban Hopper is part of a broad effort to bolster the capabilities of troops and special forces engaged in urban combat, giving them new ways to operate unfettered in the urban canyon,” Salton said., said Jon Salton, Sandia program manager.

Testing and delivery are planned for late 2010.