The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has demoed its Precision Urban Hopper robot, a wheeled ground unit that can leap over obstacles up to 7.6m (25-feet) tall and keep on truckin'.
In the video below, released last week by one of the robot's developers, Sandia National Laboratories, the shoebox-size Hopper easily leaps a chain-link fence, bounces after landing, and then keeps rolling. It seems that a piston-fired leg makes it fly.
The Precision Urban Hopper is also being developed by Boston Dynamics, creator of the famously creepy BigDog robot, for surveillance operations in urban terrain. Guided by GPS, it's designed to "bolster the capabilities of troops and special forces engaged in urban combat", navigating autonomously, according to Jon Salton, a program manager at Sandia.
Sandia said hopping has been "shown to be five times more fuel-efficient than hovering" when it comes to getting around obstacles less than 9.1m (30-feet) tall. Sandia added that other potential applications of the Hopper include law enforcement, homeland security, search and rescue, and exploring other planets.
Testing and delivery of the Hopper is scheduled for late 2010.