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Robotic grasshopper to help explore Mars’ rocky geography

London, July 6 (ANI): Scientists have come up with the first robotic grasshopper based on the spring mechanism the insect has to propel itself, which may help explore Mars’ rocky terrain.

The Jollbot was masterminded by Rhodri Armour, who spent a year building the robot with colleagues at the University of Bath.

The robot, which can jump and roll, enjoys an edge over other machines due to its ability to launch itself over obstacles.

The remote-controlled Jollbot runs on a motor connected to a battery pack and a series of springs around the circumference, which help it leap up to half a metre.

Weighing only one kilogram, it has been made from soft plastic, and borrows dynamics from insects when it bounces on landing.

Armour said: “I was inspired by the way insects like the grasshopper jump around in extremely rough environments. Even with their comparatively long legs, an insect’s small size limits the possibility of using its muscles to directly provide the contraction needed for take-off.”

The researcher added: “That means all insects and smaller jumping animals use some sort of spring mechanism to store muscle energy and release it when required. It’s a bit like a mechanical catapult – with a lengthy energy storage phase and rapid release.”

The boffin further revealed that the project was meant to be low-cost, adding: “Jollbot was always intended to be inexpensive and as such many could be sent on exploratory missions in place of a single conventional robot. This would allow for some of them to fail.”

Dr David Williams, director general of the British National Space Centre, said that the University of Bath’s research helped boost homegrown innovation in space exploration.

He added: “We wish the project all the best.” (ANI)

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