Nutty 'Urban Hopper' robot leaps 25 feet in the air to clear obstacles

The Precision Urban Hopper may ride around on wheels, but that doesn't mean it'll let a wall or some other obstruction slow it down — it'll just leap right over it instead. The rolling robot is equipped with a piston that it can deploy to launch itself over 25 feet in the air. While that's pretty bananas, the idea behind it all is that the Urban Hopper's method of clearing obstacles takes far less power or fuel than it would if the 'bot employed other means, such as hovering. Doesn't sound any easier on the Hopper's body, though.

So what's it good for? Well, it's a DARPA project, so you know the military will get to play around with it. Both Boston Dynamics (the folks behind the BigDog) and Sandia National Labs are working on it with the hope that it could give combat personnel another option when it comes to scouting out areas with a remote vehicle. Or, y'know, make it land on someone's head, crushing it like a Goomba.

Sandia National Labs, via BotJunkie