Boston Dynamics set a land-speed record for a robot running on a treadmill. Clocking in at 18 miles per hour, this “Cheetah” model has broke the previous record of 13.1 miles per hour set back in 1989.
A new video posted by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) March 5, 2012 showed the cheetah robot running faster than an average human. While this robot cheetah can’t run as fast as the real-life cheetah who is the fastest land animal by running at a speed of 70 mph, it is still a milestone for the U.S. military. The U.S. military has a quest to create mobile robots capable of going where human soldiers can go on foot. DARPA has funded the cheetah robot made by Boston Dynamics alongside a Flamingo- or Velociraptor-shaped robot inspired by an MIT design.
While details about the cheetah robot haven’t been released from Boston Dymanics or the Department of Defense, it’s a great step towards robots helping in battle next to soldiers, one day. The use of ground robots in military explosive-ordinance-disposal missions already saves lives in battle.
DARPA Cheetah is currently stuck on the treadmill, but it’s expected to go for a free-run later in the year. “We plan to get off the treadmill and into the field as soon as possible. We really want to understand what is possible for fast-moving robots,” said Alfred Rizzi, the firm’s chief robotics scientist.
In the video you can see that the robot lifts all four feet from the ground and arches its back as it makes longer strides to go at a faster running speed.
DARPA said in a statement, “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.”