‘Star Wars’-inspired Hopping Robot Explores Rescue Ops

University researchers working on a U.S. Army project have developed a robot that looks like a diminutive “Star Wars” Imperial walker that could help in search-and-rescue operations.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley said robots like this could one day help save lives of service members and civilians. The robot, called Salto, is less than a foot tall and has control systems that enables it to bounce in place, navigate an obstacle course or follow a moving target, among other tasks. 

The hope is that Salto will advance the development of small, nimble robots that could jump through rubble to help in search-and-rescue and other military missions.

"Unlike a grasshopper or cricket that winds up and gives one jump, we're looking at a mechanism where it can jump, jump, jump, jump," said Ronald Fearing, an electrical engineering and computer sciences professor at UC Berkeley, in a May 28 release. "This allows our robot to jump from location to location, which then gives it the ability to temporarily land on surfaces that we might not be able to perch on."

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