A development team from Festo’s Bionic Learning Network spent two years recreating the jumping behaviour of the natural kangaroo as closely as possible and learning from it. The BionicKangaroo now demonstrates exactly what distinguishes the natural kangaroo, namely recovering and storing energy and retrieving it on the next jump.

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The Achilles tendon assumes an important function here, which is why it is particularly pronounced on the natural kangaroo. The function of the natural Achilles tendon is carried out with the help of an elastic band made of rubber. It is fastened at the back of the foot and parallel to a pneumatic cylinder on the knee joint. The artificial tendon cushions the jump, simultaneously absorbs the kinetic energy and releases it for the next jump.

The condition monitoring as well as the precise control technology ensure the required stability when jumping and landing. The kangaroo achieves its high jumping power with the aid of pneumatics. In the places where the highest positioning accuracy is called for, electric motors are used – for example, when it comes to controlling the tail and hip. In this way Festo uses the artificial kangaroo to show how pneumatic and electric drive technology can be combined by means of a new control generation developed by Festo to make a highly dynamic system.

Festo paid particular attention to the mobile energy supply on the artificial kangaroo. For this purpose, the team even developed two different concepts – one with an integrated compressor and one with a mobile high-pressure storage device. The movement apparatus (kinematics) is made out of laser-sintered parts reinforced with carbon. As a result, the artificial animal weighs just seven kilograms with a height of around one metre, and it can jump up to 40 centimetres high and up to a distance of 80 centimetres. The BionicKangaroo is controlled using gestures.