New robot 'Cheetah' breaks land-speed record

Mar 06, 2012 by Bob Yirka report

(PhysOrg.com) -- Up till now researchers at Boston Dynamics have demonstrated four legged robots that appear meant to carry heavy loads as they tromp through and over rough terrain (e.g. Alpha Dog and Petman, LS3). Now it appears they’ve taken a different approach in looking to build robots that can move fast. And apparently, they mean really fast. In the demo video they show off their new robot named Cheetah breaking the unofficial land speed record by galloping at eighteen miles per hour on a treadmill. Cheetah looks very much like the animal it was named for, even arching it’s back as it picks up speed. But clearly with such a name, the team is aiming much higher.

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The research is sponsored by DARPA, which means the hope is that a robot that can run really fast in the real world could be used for unspecified military purposes, such as chasing down the enemy. But that is still a ways off. Cheetah is still tethered in place by hydraulic tubing and a boom to keep it on the straight and narrow.

Dr. Alfred Rizzi, technical lead on the project put out a press release in conjunction with the video and says that while eighteen miles per hour is pretty good, they are hoping for much more. In fact, he says he doesn’t see any reason why they couldn’t get the to run up to fifty miles per hour, which is what is possible on the specially designed treadmill. He adds that the purpose of the project is to see how far they can push this kind of technology. In the real world, the limit for a cheetah is in the neighborhood of seventy miles per hour, which is more than twice as fast as the current world champion human.

The Cheetah project falls under the Maximum Mobility and Manipulation program run by the US Defense Department that seeks to discover new ways for using robots in military applications. In the press release, the team also says they believe they’ll have Cheetah running un-tethered before the year is out. With a goal of finding the limits to such robots, it’s not hard to imagine one day a demo of a much more refined version of that could conceivably leave its biologically restrained namesake in the dust.

Explore further: A robot dives into search for Malaysian Airlines flight

More information: Press release

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User comments : 17

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Xbw
3.2 / 5 (11) Mar 06, 2012
Although this is not too impressive in terms of robot vs animal, I shudder at the thought of a robotic cheetah bearing down on me at 100mph.
kaasinees
2.6 / 5 (10) Mar 06, 2012
Once there is a power source build in it would be a lot less.
Bowler_4007
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 06, 2012
i thought the land speed record was more than 700mph, perhaps they mean record for something with four legs or robots
Expiorer
2.8 / 5 (9) Mar 06, 2012
maybe it could run faster forward
El_Nose
5 / 5 (1) Mar 06, 2012
wow i thought the same thing -- but forward is to the left .... it doesn't have a head -- what you thought was the head was it's rear end.
gwrede
3.4 / 5 (7) Mar 06, 2012
While it technologically makes hardy any difference whether this robot runs, like some here say "backward" or "forward", there is a real difference out in the field.

This way it doesn't get tangled in bushes or vines that are lower than its, well, "knees". Running the other way it would have to make absolutely sure it lifts its toes above any potential low twigs and branches.
ibuyufo
5 / 5 (3) Mar 06, 2012
Leave it up to DARPA to fund and create creepy robots.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Mar 06, 2012
This way it doesn't get tangled in bushes or vines that are lower than its, well, "knees". Running the other way it would have to make absolutely sure it lifts its toes above any potential low twigs and branches.


But think about what happens when it starts to slow down or tries to take a corner.

The legs work kinda like ratchets. This way they ratchet forwards, the other way they ratchet backwards. Like any race driver knows, it's not only how fast you can go, it's how well you can stop.
maxcypher
5 / 5 (2) Mar 06, 2012
Didn't these guys ever see the Terminator series?
MrVibrating
1 / 5 (1) Mar 06, 2012
I'm wondering why BD bots often use inverted joints - if this were more efficient you'd expect dogs (or some other quadruped) would be built the same way..?
Deesky
3.7 / 5 (12) Mar 06, 2012
Once there is a power source build in it would be a lot less.

Unfortunately that's the thing that's holding these things back - a decent portable power source. Current battery tech just can't cut it. I remember seeing the BigDog autonomous version which was powered by, what sounded like a lawn-mower engine. It was as noisy as hell and, well, just added to the creep factor!

Deesky
3.5 / 5 (8) Mar 06, 2012
This way it doesn't get tangled in bushes or vines that are lower than its, well, "knees". Running the other way it would have to make absolutely sure it lifts its toes above any potential low twigs and branches

Have you seen the BigDog version navigate a rubble heap? Here is a detailed video - rubble walking at around 30:15 mark:
http://www.youtub...=related

Another version called LittleDog:
http://www.youtub...=related
Dug
2.6 / 5 (5) Mar 06, 2012
That just ain't natural. Do us all a favor and put some kind of head on that thing.
Bowler_4007
2.3 / 5 (9) Mar 06, 2012
just coz you have a head doesn't mean it should
PosterusNeticus
4.3 / 5 (7) Mar 07, 2012
I'm wondering why BD bots often use inverted joints - if this were more efficient you'd expect dogs (or some other quadruped) would be built the same way..?


Since when is nature a perfectionist? I can choke to death while eating food because the food I need and the air I need rely on the same hole. That's a terrible layout.
uhjim
2.6 / 5 (5) Mar 07, 2012
It hasn't any
face and comes with murder in
it's heart. Ugly work.
hb_
not rated yet Mar 08, 2012
I am really impressed! Cudos to the design team!

I am looking forward to the day when they can match up this "Cheetah" with the fastest man in the world for a race.

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