All-Terrain Robot Executes Double Jumps, Flips, and Pull-Ups

RHex, short for robot hexapod, is a six-legged walking robot that was first developed through a multi-university collaboration over a decade ago. Now, University of Pennsylvania researchers are working on a lighter, more agile version of RHex known as XRL, or X-RHex Lite. To get the most mobility out of the bot's simple, one-jointed legs, the Penn team is essentially teaching it Parkour - a holistic training discipline using movement derived from military obstacle course training. By activating its legs in different sequences, the new RHex can execute double jumps, flips, and, through a combination of moves, pull-ups. For tall obstacles, the robot can launch itself vertically, hook its front legs on the edge of the object it's trying to surmount, and then drag its body up and over. Someday, it could be used to climb over rubble in a rescue mission or cross the desert with environmental sensors strapped to its back.