MIT researchers have created a new robot that is able to jump around using springy sticks of metal that protrude from its side. The metal springs are very tongue-like and give the bot the ability to move itself around the environment. The little square bot has a pair of motorized rotors inside that are connected to the four flattened lops of spring steel sticking out of the bot on the outside.
When those bit of spring steel are pulled into the round cavity inside the robot where they are attached, they are compressed. The rotors continue to turn and the compressed springs eventually go around and are released out of the openings again causing the robot to jump.
Watching the robotic cube jumping around on the table is a bit like watching some Mexican Jumping Beans bounce around. The robot will jump nearly continuously as long as the rotors turn with directional control available.
The direction of the jump is controlled by using different openings on the surface of the cube to flip the metal spring steel out of. Each of the rotors can be driven forward or backward. The cube is 7cm on a side and has a mass of 200 grams. The researchers tested a hard cube and a soft cube and found that the soft cube could travel longer distances thanks to being able to bounce and roll after the jump.