Science & Technology

Tallest peak of any identified jumper, engineered or organic — ScienceDaily


A mechanical jumper developed by UC Santa Barbara engineering professor Elliot Hawkes and collaborators is able to attaining the tallest peak — roughly 100 ft (30 meters) — of any jumper to this point, engineered or organic. The feat represents a contemporary method to the design of leaping gadgets and advances the understanding of leaping as a type of locomotion.

“The motivation came from a scientific question,” stated Hawkes, who as a roboticist seeks to know the numerous attainable strategies for a machine to have the ability to navigate its surroundings. “We wanted to understand what the limits were on engineered jumpers.” While there are centuries’ price of research on organic jumpers (that will be us within the animal kingdom), and a long time’ price of analysis on principally bio-inspired mechanical jumpers, he stated, the 2 traces of inquiry have been saved considerably separate.

“There hadn’t really been a study that compares and contrasts the two and how their limits are different — whether engineered jumpers are really limited to the same laws that biological jumpers are,” Hawkes stated.

Their analysis is printed within the journal Nature.

Big Spring, Tiny Motor

Biological methods have lengthy served as the primary and finest fashions for locomotion, and that has been very true for leaping, outlined by the researchers as a “movement created by forces applied to the ground by the jumper, while maintaining a constant mass.” Many engineered jumpers have targeted on duplicating the designs supplied by evolution, and to nice impact.

But the weather that create a bounce in a organic system might be limiting for engineered methods, stated Charles Xaio, a Ph.D. candidate in Hawkes’ lab.

“Biological systems can only jump with as much energy as they can produce in a single stroke of their muscle,” Xaio stated. Thus, the system is proscribed within the quantity of power it may give to pushing the physique off the bottom, and the jumper can bounce solely so excessive.

But what if there was a strategy to improve the quantity of power accessible? For engineered jumpers there’s: they can use motors that ratchet or rotate to take many strokes, multiplying the quantity of power they will retailer of their spring. The researchers termed this capacity “work multiplication,” which might be present in engineered jumpers of all sizes and shapes.

“This difference between energy production in biological versus engineered jumpers means that the two should have very different designs to maximize jump height,” Xiao stated. Animals ought to have a small spring — solely sufficient to retailer the comparatively small quantity of power produced by their single muscle stroke — and a big muscle mass. In distinction, engineered jumpers ought to have as massive a spring as attainable and a tiny motor.”

The researchers took these insights and designed a jumper fairly not like organic jumpers: the scale of its spring relative to its motor is almost 100x larger than that present in animals. Further, they devised a brand new spring, in search of to maximise its power storage per unit mass. In their hybrid tension-compression spring, carbon-fiber compression bows are squashed whereas rubber bands are stretched by the pulling of a line wrapped round a motor-driven spindle. The staff discovered that linking the outward-bending edges of the bows throughout the center with rubber in pressure additionally improved the spring’s energy.

“Surprisingly, the rubber makes the compression bow-spring stronger,” Hawkes stated. “You can compress the spring further without it breaking.”

The jumper can be designed to be light-weight, with a minimalistic latching mechanism to launch the power for the bounce, and aerodynamic, with the legs folding in to attenuate air drag throughout flight. Altogether, these design options enable it to hurry up from 0 to 60 mph in 9 meters per second — an acceleration pressure of 315g — and attain the roughly 100-foot peak within the researchers’ demonstrations. For motor-driven jumpers, that is “near the feasible limit of jump height with currently available materials,” in response to the research.

This design and the power to exceed the bounds set by organic designs units the stage for the reimagining of leaping as an environment friendly type of machine locomotion: Jumping robots might get locations the place solely flying robots at the moment attain.

The advantages could be extra pronounced off Earth as effectively: Jumping robots can journey throughout the moon or planets effectively, with out coping with obstacles on the floor, whereas additionally accessing options and views that may’t be reached by terrain-based robots.

“We calculated that the device should be able to clear 125 meters in height while jumping half of a kilometer forward on the moon,” stated Hawkes, declaring that gravity is 1/6 of that on Earth and that there’s principally no air drag. “That would be one giant leap for engineered jumpers.”



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