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Bionic Kangaroo Brought to Life by Pneumatics

Bionic Kangaroo Brought to Life by Pneumatics

Festo’s Bionic Learning Network menagerie just got a jumpy new addition: the BionicKangaroo. Added to the Festo lineup of birds, elephants, and dragonflies, the BionicKangaroo recovers energy while jumping, storing it efficiently for use in its next jump—just like its real-life counterpart. Festo combined both pneumatic and electric drive technology to create the system, which is controlled by human gestures.

Festo’s pneumatic cylinders are specifically designed to be as lightweight as possible, allowing for the BionicKangaroo to jump higher while also acting as shock absorbers.

The development team at Festo spent two years recreating the behavior of kangaroos in nature in order to replicate the motion properly. A combination of lightweight construction, stable jump kinematics, and precise control technology ensures stability while jumping and landing. Attached to each lower leg is a Festo DSNUP 20 pneumatic lightweight cylinder to actuate the legs. The cylinders are made with an anodized aluminum barrel, plastic endcaps, and a stainless-steel piston rod to ensure minimal weight.

The standard bores for the DSNUP cylinder are 16, 20, and 25 mm and the standard strokes are 25, 50, and 100 mm. It operates at pressures from 1 to 8 bar at –10° to 60° C. The cylinders are also available with adjustable end-of-stroke cushioning and electronic position sensing.

According to Festo, “the landing phase is the critical process for recovering the energy and is responsible for the kangaroo’s efficient jumping behavior.” Click on image to enlarge.

To replicate the natural movement of a kangaroo’s Achilles tendon—which are particularly pronounced on the marsupial—an elastic spring element made of rubber is used. Fastened to the back of the foot and parallel to the pneumatic cylinder at the knee joint, the pseudo-tendon cushions each jump, simultaneously absorbing the kinetic energy that will be released during the next jump.

Illustration identifies primary components of the BionicKangoaroo. Click on image to enlarge.

The mobile energy supply used by the BionicKangaroo was of key importance, so the team developed two options: either a small compressor or a high-pressure storage device can be placed within the body. Both supply the necessary compressed air used for jumping, delivered by two Festo MHE2 solenoid valves. Lithium polymer rechargeable batteries serve as the electrical energy storage devices, supplying power to the valves, electrical drives, and the integrated Festo CECC control system. The BionicKangaroo is controlled by gestures and a special armband worn by the operator. A position sensor on the armband records movements, sending the signals via Bluetooth to the BionicKangaroo’s compact control system.


To see the BionicKangaroo in action, watch the video below.

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