When the biomimetic robotic cheetah was first revealed a few months ago, we all agreed this thing was pretty cool. Using a hydraulic pump to power it and a device that centers it on a treadmill, the cheetah was already able to run at an amazing 18 mph. Now, with a more powerful pump and better algorithms, the cheetah has been able to achieve DARPA's original goal of creating a robot that could run faster than any human.
The cheetah was able to run a 20-meter split on the treadmill at 28.3 mph. That's 0.52 mph faster than Usain Bolt's world record of 27.78 mph over a 20-meter split, set in 2009. DARPA says that since the cheetah was on a treadmill and not propelling itself out on a track, that speed is technically a wind-tail average, but however you define it, that's one fast robot.
The cheetah was designed by DARPA to carry out emergency response, human assistance and military missions -- all of which would be aided by something with great speed. The cheetahs mechanical legs will also hopefully help it to cover rough terrain not navigable by wheeled robots.
DARPA plans to test the cheetah on natural terrain next year.
You can watch a video of the record-setting run below.