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Flea-inspired small scale jumping robot

Fleas have excellent jumping ability, jumping to more than 150 times their body length. To enable this, they store large elastic energy and release it quickly by torque reversal triggering. A flea-inspired catapult mechanism for miniature jumping robots was developed, and dynamic modeling was developed to optimize the leg design. A robotic design was created to realize the torque reversal mechanism with shape memory alloy actuators and a smart composite microstructure fabrication method. Two types of flea-inspired jumping mechanisms were developed for verifying the feasibility of applying the concept to an efficient jumping robot. The first prototype has a flea-like appearance and the second is simplified to contain just the essential components of the flea-inspired catapult mechanism. This unique catapult mechanism can be used not only for jumping robots but also for other small-sized robots to generate fast-releasing motion.

Also, froghopper-inspired direction-changing concept was demonstrated with miniature jumping robots. The key design principles were adopted from the froghopper’s power-producing hind legs and the moment cancellation accomplished by synchronized leg operation. To apply this principle, conventional gears were utilized to simultaneously operate the legs and cancel out the moments that they induce, which minimizes body spin. It has potential for use in miniature jumping robots that can change jumping direction with a minimal drop in jumping performance.


Related papers and patents

Minkyun Noh, Seung-Won Kim, and Kyu-Jin Cho, “A Miniature Jumping Robot with Flea-inspired Catapult System: Active Latch and Trigger”, in Proc. International Workshop on Bio-inspired Robots, Apr. 2011. [PDF]

Minkyun Noh, Seung-Won Kim, Sungmin An, Je-Sung Koh, and Kyu-Jin Cho, “Flea-inspired catapult mechanism for miniature jumping robots”, IEEE Transactions on Robotics (TRO), Vol. 28, No. 5, pp. 1007-1018, Oct. 2012. [PDF]

Je-Sung Koh, Sun-Pil Jung, Minkyun Noh, Seung-Won Kim, and Kyu-Jin Cho, “Flea Inspired Catapult Mechanism with Active Energy Storage and Release for Small Scale Jumping Robot,” Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pp. 26-31, 2013. [PDF]

Gwang-Pil Jung, Je-Sung Koh, Ji-Suk Kim, Sun-Pil Jung, and Kyu-Jin Cho, “Role of Compliant Leg in Flea-inspired Jumping Robot,” Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2014. [PDF]

Gwang-Pil Jung and Kyu-Jin Cho, “Froghopper-Inspired Direction Changing Concept for Miniature Jumping Robots”, Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, Vol. 11, No. 5, pp. 056015, Sep., 2016. [PDF]

Gwang-Pil Jung, Hong-Cheol Choi, and Kyu-Jin Cho, “Effect of leg compliance in multi-directional jumping of the flea-inspired mechanism”, Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, Vol. 12, No. 2, p. 026006, Feb. 2017. [PDF]

Bio-inspired moment shifting latch and small-scale jumping robot leg using the same (Korean Patent Registration number 1012639330000)

Jumping robot using offsetting of moment and synchronization of timing (Korean Patent Registration number 10-1886917)

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· E-mail : demian05 at
· Affiliation : 한국과학기술연구원 (KIST)


Seung-Won Kim

GwnagPil Jung.jpg

· E-mail : ceaser97 at
· Affiliation : Professor at Seoul Nat'l Univ. of Science and Tech. (서울과학기술대학교)


Gwang-Pil Jung

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