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Autonomous Combustion-Powered Hopping Robot

Sandia National Laboratories

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PDF Document PublicationMarket Sheet (963 KB)

Technology Marketing SummarySandia’s hopping robotic platform provides a groundbreaking, energy efficient capability. Hopping mobility has been shown to be five times more efficient than hovering when traversing obstacles at heights under 10 meters.DescriptionTwo versions of the robots exist. One being about the size of a grapefruit and capable of approximately 4,000 hops on a single tank of fuel (less than an ounce) of about 3 feet high and 6 feet from the starting point of the jump. The other is about the size of a shoe box and able to overcome as many as 30 obstacles that are over 20 feet high with about 100 hops per tank of fuel.

The four-wheeled version of the robot overcomes traditional barriers associated with long-range missions and terrain including management of shock forces, hop height, and efficiency. Furthermore, the robots are equipped with compasses or GPS that allows them to orient themselves once landed.
  • Energy efficient combustion technology
  • Can overcome a variety of obstacles & environments
  • Self-orienting
  • Long-range travel
  • Situational awareness
  • Autonomous mobility
  • Lightweight & reduced size
Applications and Industries
  • Search & rescue missions
  • Space exploration
  • Law enforcement & first responders
  • Environmental assessment
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 6,247,546
Hopping robot
The present invention provides a hopping robot that includes a misfire tolerant linear actuator suitable for long trips, low energy steering and control, reliable low energy righting, miniature low energy fuel control. The present invention provides a robot with hopping mobility, capable of traversing obstacles significant in size relative to the robot and capable of operation on unpredictable terrain over long range. The present invention further provides a hopping robot with misfire-tolerant combustion actuation, and with combustion actuation suitable for use in oxygen-poor environments.
Sandia National Laboratories 06/19/2001
Patent 6,286,386
Passive orientation apparatus
An apparatus that can return a payload to a known orientation after unknown motion, without requiring external power or complex mechanical systems. The apparatus comprises a faceted cage that causes the system to rest in a stable position and orientation after arbitrary motion. A gimbal is mounted with the faceted cage and holds the payload, allowing the payload to move relative to the stable faceted cage. The payload is thereby placed in a known orientation by the interaction of gravity with the geometry of the faceted cage, the mass of the system, and the motion of the payload and gimbal. No additional energy, control, or mechanical actuation is required. The apparatus is suitable for use in applications requiring positioning of a payload to a known orientation after arbitrary or uncontrolled motion, including remote sensing and mobile robot applications.
Sandia National Laboratories 09/11/2001
Patent 6,308,791
Steerable vertical to horizontal energy transducer for mobile robots
The present invention provides a steerable vertical to horizontal energy transducer for mobile robots that less complex and requires less power than two degree of freedom tilt mechanisms. The present invention comprises an end effector that, when mounted with a hopping actuator, translates along axis (typically vertical) actuation into combined vertical and horizontal motion. The end effector, or foot, mounts with an end of the actuator that moves toward the support surface (typically a floor or the earth). The foot is shaped so that the first contact with the support surface is off the axis of the actuator. Off-axis contact with the support surface generates an on-axis force (typically resulting in vertical motion) and a moment orthogonal to the axis. The moment initiates a horizontal tumbling motion, and tilts the actuator so that its axis is oriented with a horizontal component and continued actuation generates both vertical and horizontal force.
Sandia National Laboratories 10/30/2001
Patent 6,328,002
Misfire tolerant combustion-powered actuation
The present invention provides a combustion-powered actuator that is suitable for intermittent actuation, that is suitable for use with atmospheric pressure carburetion, and that requires little electrical energy input. The present invention uses energy from expansion of pressurized fuel to effectively purge a combustion chamber, and to achieve atmospheric pressure carburetion. Each purge-fill-power cycle can be independent, allowing the actuator to readily tolerate misfires. The present invention is suitable for use with linear and rotary operation combustion chambers, and is suitable for use in a wide variety of applications.
Sandia National Laboratories 12/11/2001
Patent 7,775,305
Wheeled hopping robot
The present invention provides robotic vehicles having wheeled and hopping mobilities that are capable of traversing (e.g. by hopping over) obstacles that are large in size relative to the robot and, are capable of operation in unpredictable terrain over long range. The present invention further provides combustion powered linear actuators, which can include latching mechanisms to facilitate pressurized fueling of the actuators, as can be used to provide wheeled vehicles with a hopping mobility.
Sandia National Laboratories 08/17/2010
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
US Patents: 6,247,546; 6,286,386; 6,308,791; 6,328,002; 7,775,305Prototype - Sandia estimates this technology at a TRL 6-7. Prototypes have been demonstrated in relevant, operational environments. Available - Various license and partnering options are available. Please contact the Intellectual Property department to discuss. 01/21/201103/12/2013

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