Jumping, 3D-Printed Robot with Rigid Core and Soft Exterior

Engineers at Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego, have created the first robot with a 3D-printed body that transitions from a rigid core to a soft exterior. It is capable of over 30 untethered jumps. The robot's rigid layers make for a better interface with the device's electronic brains and power sources and its soft layers make it less vulnerable to damage when it lands after jumping. The robot is made of two nestled hemispheres. The top hemisphere is 3D-printed in once piece and has nine different layers of stiffness, creating a structure that goes from rubber-like flexibility on the exterior to full rigidity near to core. The bottom half of the robot is flexible and includes a small chamber where oxygen and butane are injected before it jumps. The two hemispheres surround a rigid core module that houses a custom circuit board, high-voltage power source, battery, miniature air compressor, butane fuel cell and other components. In a series of tests, the robot jumped two and a half feet in height.