MIT Robotic Cheetah Runs Like A Real Animal [Video]

Cheetah is the fastest land animal on the planet. The big cat can accelerate from zero to 60mph in just a few seconds. Now MIT researchers have developed a quadruped robot inspired by the big predator. On Monday, scientists released a video how the robotic cheetah bounds across the grass without any hiccups. It’s a four-legged assemblage of batteries, fears, and electric motors. It weighs as much as a real cheetah.

MIT plans to boost the speed of its robotic cheetah further

The robot reached a speed up to 10mph, and kept sprinting after clearing a hurdle. However, scientists are working to make it much faster. They estimate that, with some improvements, it can reach speeds of up to 30mph. That would bring its speed close to the robotic cheetah developed by Boston Dynamics, which is even faster than the sprinter Usain Bolt. Future versions of MIT’s robot would make it impossible for most humans to outrun the machine.

Sangbae Kim, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, said they had developed a new algorithm for bounding. They programmed each of the legs of the robot to exert a specific amount of force the moment it hits the ground. This force-based approach helped the cheetah-bot handle rougher terrain such as sprinting across a grassy field.

Why MIT’s robo-cheetah is so special

Most robots are heavy and sluggish. They can’t control force in high-speed situations. In contrast, MIT’s machine can control the force profile for a short period, followed by a solid impact with the ground. Its bio-inspired, custom-designed legs allow force control without having to rely on delicate force sensors on its feet. MIT scientists will present the details of their algorithm later this month in Chicago at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems.

The algorithm developed by Kim and his colleagues determines the amount of force a let needs to exert in the split second it spends on the ground. It pushes the robot up against the gravitational force to maintain forward momentum.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency supported the study.