Behold the Cheetah Robot, Not as Fast as the Real Cat But Still Wicked Quick

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News Posted: Thu, Sep 6 2012 9:11 AM
A real cheetah can run as fast as 70-75 mph in short bursts, so DARPA's Cheetah robot still has a ways to go in that regard. But as far as robotics go, DARPA's mechanical Cheetah is the fastest legged robot in the history of mankind, hitting a top speed of 28.3 mph on camera (see embedded video below).

To put that into perspective, Cheetah is capable of exceeding the speed limit in residential areas. It's also faster than Usain Bolt, who set the world speed record for a human in 2009 when he hit a peak speed of 27.78 mph during a 20-meter split.

So, what's the point?

"Modeling the robot after a cheetah is evocative and inspiring, but our goal is not to copy nature. What DARPA is doing with its robotics programs is attempting to understand and engineer into robots certain core capabilities that living organisms have refined over millennia of evolution: efficient locomotion, manipulation of objects and adaptability to environments," said Gill Pratt, DARPA program manager. "Cheetahs happen to be beautiful examples of how natural engineering has created speed and agility across rough terrain. Our Cheetah bot borrows ideas from nature’s design to inform stride patterns, flexing and unflexing of parts like the back, placement of limbs and stability. What we gain through Cheetah and related research efforts are technological building blocks that create possibilities for a whole range of robots suited to future Department of Defense missions."

Cheetah is a project of DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program, which tasks itself with refining robotic movement and capabilities in less than ideal terrain. It's only see action on a treadmill so far, but DARPA says it plans to send a prototype into the wild next year.
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JOMA replied on Thu, Sep 6 2012 10:38 AM

That is awesome! Maybe 25 years from now we'll have very life like robotic pets.

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CDeeter replied on Thu, Sep 6 2012 10:51 AM

Pretty cool, would like to see that to Joma. Hopefully a little sooner though, I'm not getting any younger. lol

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4L1G8R replied on Thu, Sep 6 2012 6:40 PM

I'm skeptical how this can be classed as "running", especially considering that the video description says "[....] most of the power Cheetah used was to swing its legs fast enough, not to propel itself forward".

Still really cool, I've always loved Boston Dynamics work. It's worth your time to take a gander around their Youtube channel, they have some very cool robots.

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JDiaz replied on Thu, Sep 6 2012 6:55 PM

Basically, it shows what the upper limit of the system will be. Kinetic energy is easy enough to generate but how efficient the whole system is will determine the maximum speed achievable before the amount of kinetic energy starts getting wasted and/or starts to overload the system.

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Maybe 25 years from now robots will have very robot-like human pets....

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