Robotic Cheetah Smashes Speed Record for Legged Robots

DARPAtv/Video screen capture

The rise of nature-inspired robots has become a common theme here on TreeHugger. From robotic butterflies to creepy climbing cockroaches, we've seen countless examples of how artificial life can be enhanced by learning from the real thing.

This galloping cheetah inspired robot, which has reached speeds of 18mph, is no exception. Smashing a previous record of 13.1mph for legged robots, set back in 1989, the concept uses the natural flexing of both legs and back that a cheetah exhibits to increase its stride. Developed by Boston Dynamics of Waltham, Mass for the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the current version only runs in a straight line on a treadmill. For now:

The robot's movements are patterned after those of fast-running animals in nature. The robot increases its stride and running speed by flexing and un-flexing its back on each step, much as an actual cheetah does.

The current version of the Cheetah robot runs on a laboratory treadmill where it is powered by an off-board hydraulic pump, and uses a boom-like device to keep it running in the center of the treadmill. Testing of a free-running prototype is planned for later this year.

No word on exactly what it would be used for yet, but it sure is clever. And fast.

Tags: Biomimicry | Technology | United States | video

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