MIT’s robo-cheetah can now run around without a tether

MIT’s Cheetah robot has finally been let off the leash — and boy can it run. Watch as it bounds across a grass field, and even jumps over a hurdle. It isn’t quite up to the evolutionary magnificence of its biological counterpart, which can hit 60 mph in a couple of seconds, but it’s still pretty impressive. It’s also notable that MIT’s Cheetah is battery powered, which makes it a lot quieter than other similar gasoline-powered robots that sound like a swarm of angry bees. “Our robot can be silent and as efficient as animals. The only things you hear are the feet hitting the ground,” says MIT’s Sangbae Kim.

Most robots are slow and lumbering–many designs even rely on internal combustion to efficiently haul around all that mass. MIT’s Cheetah robot is at the opposite end of the robotic spectrum with its slim frame and electric motor. The team behind this engineering marvel has taken a big step by making the robot work untethered–it’s now a completely self-contained running robot, and it even works on rough grassy terrain. Previous tests of the Cheetah-bot took place in the lab on a treadmill. Additionally, the robot was hooked up to an external power source with a student nearby to keep the wires out of the way. Even at the time researchers found the Cheetah-bot was able to make its way over small obstacles without breaking its stride. The true test, however, is to see how a robot handles the real world. The team developed a new algorithm that allows the robot to run and jump outdoors without falling over. It’s not going to reach the speeds of its biological counterpart–upwards of 60 mph. It can still hit a respectable 10 mph and jump up to 33cm in height. That’s impressive for a robot, especially one that relies on an electric motor.

Categorized as Robotics

By Sal McCloskey

+Sal McCloskey is a tech blogger in Los Angeles who (sadly) falls into the stereotype associated with nerds. Yes, he's a Star Trek fan and writes about it on Uberly. His glasses are thick and his allergies are thicker. Despite all that, he's (somehow) married to a beautiful woman and has 4 kids. Find him on Twitter or Facebook,

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