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Intelligent Machines

This Super-Springy Robot Can Do Parkour

Salto may be the most agile automaton ever built.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have built a robot with huge ups.

Salto can launch itself a meter in the air despite weighing less than a quarter pound and standing only a few inches high. It achieves this by getting into what one of its inventors, Duncan Haldane, calls a "super-crouch." This allows it to spend a long time in contact with the ground when jumping.

But its true standout skill is how fast it can reload and jump again. Haldane built Salto to mimic the leaping ability of a galago, a small, springy primate that lives in Africa. Galagos can jump a bit higher than Salto—1.7 meters versus one meter—but like galagos, Salto can get ready for its next jump in a fraction of a second, allowing it to chain together jumps that get it higher and farther than it could in a single bound.

Basically, it does parkour.

(Read more: IEEE Spectrum, "This Robot Crosses Rough Ground Like a Human Does," "The Latest Boston Dynamics Creation Escapes the Lab, Roams the Snowy Woods")