Salto-1P uses a small motor and a system of linkages and gears to jump. Because it spends so little time in contact with the ground, the robot needs to do most of its control in the air. To do that, it uses a rotating inertial tail and two little thrusters to stabilize and reorient itself in between jumps.
Last December, Duncan Haldane (whose research on incredibly agile bioinspired robots we’ve featured extensively in the past) ended up on the cover of the inaugural issue of Science Robotics with his jumping robot, Salto. Salto had impressive vertical jumping agility, and was able to jump from the ground onto a vertical surface, and then use that surface to change its direction with a second jump. It was very cool to watch, but the jumping was open-loop and planar, meaning that two jumps in a row was just about all that Salto could manage.
“Imagine a cheetah running at top speed using only one leg, and then cut the amount of time that leg spends on the ground in half. That’s the duty factor of Salto-1P.”