Scientists have created a soft robot that runs like a cheetah. The LEAP robot is three times faster than previous similar robots. The robot can also lift heavy objects. This development has moved bots forward towards a broader range of capabilities.
LEAP, or Leveraging Elastic instabilities for Amplified Performance, is a small bot that is only 7 centimeters long and weighs roughly 45 grams. However, the soft bot can run on flat or incline surfaces 2.7 body lengths per second. The previous bots could only run up to 0.8 body lengths per second on flat surfaces. LEAP can also swim with the help of an attached fin.
"Potential applications include search and rescue technologies, where speed is essential, and industrial manufacturing robotics. For example, imagine production line robotics that are faster, but still capable of handling fragile objects." said Jie Yin, an assistant professor at NC State.
Scientists continue to look to the animal kingdom to inspire their robotics advancements, and the result is the development of more intricate functionality for solving problems in new ways.