Besides a mastery of their limbs that lets them scamper over almost any terrain, animals—and humans—have the ability to jump over obstacles that are difficult to traverse. And that's a skill that most robots are only just starting to learn.
The six-legged HRex robot uses its spinning limbs to scurry across the ground, but now researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have taught it to jump allowing it to cross gaps and clear other obstacles. It also allows the robot to easily right itself when it gets flipped over, and it turns out a couple of quick hops is a fast way to transition from a walk to a run. Because, you know, teaching robots to more efficiently run humans down is a good use of research money. [YouTube via IEEE Spectrum]