Salto is short for “Saltatorial Locomotion on Terrain Obstacles,” which references saltatorial animals that have adapted jumping as means of locomotion (think kangaroos or rabbits).
Salto-1P in particular was inspired by the galagos (bushbabies), which have a vertical jumping ability that is unmatched in the animal kingdom.
The robot was created by the UC Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab, it weighs just 98 grams and it uses rotor-based thrusters to bounce around. Salto uses motion capture thanks to an off board computer that receives tracking data and bounces it back to the robot wirelessly.
One issue that came around during a redesign of the leg mechanism was the fact that the robot would occasionally get pieces of itself all across the room when the leg mechanism would be torn apart by the motor. Obviously that was an issue that got fixed eventually, but you can watch Salto’s little destructive moments in the video below.
Though at the moment there is no particular goal set for Salto, the team would like for it (or its future descendants), to interact with terrain and obstacles, perhaps hinting that the robot might prove to be useful in disaster situations or search and rescue operations.