Flapping, gliding, running, crawling, and swimming in animals have all been studied extensively in the past and have served as sources of inspiration for engineering designs. In this paper, we describe the aeromechanics of a mode of locomotion that straddles ground and air: jumping. The subject of our study is the spider cricket of the family Rhaphidophoridae, an animal that is among the most proficient of long-jumpers in nature. The focus of the study is to understand the aeromechanics of the aerial portion of the jump of this animal. The research employs high-speed videogrammetry to track the crickets’ posture and appendage orientation throughout their jumps. Experiments demonstrate that these insects employ carefully controlled and coordinated positioning of their limbs during their jumps so as to increase jump distance and stabilize body posture. Simple phenomenological models based on drag laws indicate that the conformation of the limbs during the latter portion of the jump is stable to pitch and enables these animals to land in a controllable manner. Insights from this study could be useful in the design of micro-robots that exploit jumping as a means of locomotion.

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