Wow, This Robot Kangaroo Really Looks Like a Kangaroo

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 2 2014 6:51 PM

Wow, This Robot Kangaroo Really Looks Like a Kangaroo

kangaroo
Can you tell the real kangaroo from the BionicKangaroo? Okay yeah, they look different. Fine. But it's pretty close, right?

Photos by Festo.

There's a lot of awesome stuff that happens with robots. Important advances. Hilarious antics. But it can be hard to get emotionally invested because they're, you know, big hunks of metal. But this robot kangaroo is going to change your mind. Seriously, just watch this:

It's great, right? The BionicKangaroo is made by the automation technology company Festo, and the robot really nails the biological motion of the kangaroo. The jumps and landings are stable, and, like a living kangaroo, the robot recovers kinetic energy from each jump to store and use in the next hop.

kangaroo_1

Graphic by Festo.

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But there's something else. The BionicKangaroo doesn't just minimally replicate the physics of a kangaroo's jump. The robot's movements seem innate like an animal's, instead of jerky and imposed. And it doesn't seem like Festo had any particular goal in making the BionicKangaroo other than doing research into pneumatic and electrical systems, which makes the whole thing even better. BionicKangaroo is appealing, not creepy, which is enough of an achievement.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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