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Robots and robotic technology are quickly become a real part of our society. There are cars that can drive themselves, mechanical instruments that perform surgery and pretty much anything else you can think of. Even the beloved and feared 1990s toy, the Furby, is a tiny robot. The mystique and interest in robots only seems to be growing too. But what do technological advances in robotics really mean for humans, and what could we possibly learn from a tiny hopping robot?
According to Time, German technology company Festo created a jumping kangaroo robot that can keep hopping on its springy legs indefinitely. Its legs recharge themselves and much like a living kangaroo, they capture the energy from a jump in their legs like springs. They re-use this energy and can keep on hopping. The robot stands at just over 3 feet tall and only weighs about 15 pounds. Impressively, it can jump 2 feet 7 inches horizontally. The robot is not only a technological innovation, it's pretty cute too, at least for a robot. It resembles a kangaroo pretty well, minus the fur..
The robot kangaroo could possibly help companies and manufacturers make other products that have a higher endurance and run more efficiently by harnessing energy. This could be important for things like prosthetic limbs and implants or developing more advanced robots that help with surgeries that help keep people alive. It might even be used to help develop tougher cars. The ideas are limitless. Even companies like Google are venturing into robotics. Robots are such an increasingly important part of our lives, countries are passing laws regarding how they can and can't be used. As robots become more commonplace, I would expect to see humans finding ways to grow and adapt to being less wary of the technology and probably a lot more dependent on them for every day tasks.
Check out the Robot Kangaroo in action in the video below from Festo's Youtube channel . The video shows footage of the robot kangaroo alongside footage of actual kangaroos and shows how the developers learned to mimic the movements almost perfectly. The video also goes into detail on most of the mechanical parts of the kangaroo and how they help it jump. The company doesn't plan on unleashing a fleet of robot kangaroos, but I don't think I would mind if they did. Maybe someday soon we will have learn from and integrate this technology in more devices, or maybe eventually just awesomely realistic robotic pets.