Performance analysis of jump-gliding locomotion for miniature robotics
Recent work suggests that jumping locomotion in combination with a gliding phase can be used as an effective mobility principle in robotics. Compared to pure jumping without a gliding phase, the potential benefits of hybrid jump-gliding locomotion includes the ability to extend the distance travelled and reduce the potentially damaging impact forces upon landing. This publication evaluates the performance of jump-gliding locomotion and provides models for the analysis of the relevant dynamics of flight. It also defines a jump-gliding envelope that encompasses the range that can be achieved with jump-gliding robots and that can be used to evaluate the performance and improvement potential of jump-gliding robots. We present first a planar dynamic model and then a simplified closed form model, which allow for quantification of the distance travelled and the impact energy on landing. In order to validate the prediction of these models, we validate the model with experiments using a novel jump-gliding robot, named the 'EPFL jump-glider'. It has a mass of 16.5 g and is able to perform jumps from elevated positions, perform steered gliding flight, land safely and traverse on the ground by repetitive jumping. The experiments indicate that the developed jump-gliding model fits very well with the measured flight data using the EPFL jump-glider, confirming the benefits of jump-gliding locomotion to mobile robotics. The jump-glide envelope considerations indicate that the EPFL jump-glider, when traversing from a 2 m height, reaches 74.3% of optimal jump-gliding distance compared to pure jumping without a gliding phase which only reaches 33.4% of the optimal jump-gliding distance. Methods of further improving flight performance based on the models and inspiration from biological systems are presented providing mechanical design pathways to future jump-gliding robot designs.