Carnegie Mellon University
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Head: Illah Nourbakhsh
Contact: Illah Nourbakhsh
Mailing address:
Carnegie Mellon University
Robotics Institute
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Associated lab(s) / group(s):
 CREATE: Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment
Project Homepage
The BOWGO (patent pending) is a new kind of pogo stick that bounces higher, farther and more efficiently than conventional devices. The BOWGO is a product of the Toy Robots Initiative and is a scaled-up, human-sized version of the Bow Leg. The Bow Leg is a highly resilient leg being developed for running robots at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. The key technology is the fiber-reinforced composite (FRC) spring that bends like a bow to store elastic energy. Compared to the steel coil spring used in a conventional pogo stick, the bow spring stores 2-5 times as much energy per unit mass, and precludes the sliding friction that results when long coil springs buckle sideways. The BOWGO also uses rollers to guide the plunger, in place of the usual plastic guide bushings, providing smooth, almost frictionless motion. The force/deflection characteristic of the bow spring is tailored to provide high-energy storage with minimal shock at ground contact. A large, rubber-padded foot allows the BOWGO to be used on relatively soft surfaces such as grass, sand and gravel. (We recommend using the BOWGO only on soft surfaces and away from any obstacles that might cause injury.)

Two prototypes, BOWGOI and BOWGOII, have been built and tested with a number of users and spring designs. Performance has greatly surpassed our expectations. A third prototype is presently in the works that should push performance even higher. We are currently seeking licensees for the technology.

See Q & A for more information about the BOWGO's performance and availability.