A hopping robot jumps over the head of Sandia National Laboratories researcher Gary Fischer (Photos: Randy Montoya)
Whether they use wheels, treads, or even legs, robots often have trouble extricating themselves from situations they may encounter on a space mission. Their design can also prevent them from easily navigating around certain obstacles. The chances of hitting a roadblock only increase when human control is removed, as in the case of autonomous robots. Hopping robots inspired by the clumsy jumping of grasshoppers could prove to be the answer to giving robots unprecedented mobility for exploring other planets, gathering battlefield intelligence, and assisting police during standoffs or surveillance operations.