In the world of robotic animals, Festo is certainly a shining star. Their latest creation, the Kangaroo, shows off interesting methods of recapturing pneumatic energy.
Festo may very well be building the robot version of Noah's Ark. The series of bio-inspired robots that have come out of their labs is simply breathtaking. Their latest release is a Kangaroo bot that touts a very energy-efficient jump.
Festo is a company that specializes in pneumatics. Many of their bots are displays of unique pneumatic implementations and control schemes, often pushing the boundaries of what people typically perceive as the best use of pneumatic systems.
This Kangaroo is an impressive display of mechanical engineering as well as pneumatic energy harvesting. As the bot jumps, it expends energy, but the landing recaptures some for the next jump. There were actually two designs of this bot: one with an onboard compressor and one with only a high-capacity air reservoir.
The entire bot isn't pneumatic though. The weight distribution in the hips is controlled by electric motors, as you can see in the video. You may also notice that the control scheme is fairly unique. The robot is controlled via a wireless arm-band worn by the operator. Unfortunately, there are no details on how the gesture control system works.