Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 11:06 UK

Military robot 'hops' over walls

By Paul Rincon
Science and environment reporter, BBC News


The robot is able to leap over fences and walls

Video footage has been released of a robot that can leap over obstacles more than 7.5m (25ft) high.

Most of the time, the shoebox-sized robot - which is being developed for the US military - uses its four wheels to get around.

But the Precision Urban Hopper can use a piston-actuated "leg" to launch it over obstacles such as walls or fences.

The robot could boost the capabilities of troops and special forces engaged in urban warfare, say researchers.

The robot is shoebox sized and guided by GPS

The programme is being funded by Darpa, the US military's research arm.

Earlier this year, Sandia National Laboratories awarded the contract to build the next generation of the hopper to Massachusetts-based robotics firm Boston Dynamics.

Researchers at Sandia have tried out the robot on a variety of different surfaces.

The semi-autonomous, GPS-guided gadget could be used for surveillance in urban environments.

Its developers say this could potentially reduce troop casualties.

Testing and delivery of the Precision Urban Hopper is planned for late 2010.

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