A robot that runs like a cat (w/ Video)

Jun 17, 2013
This is cheetah-cub, a compliant quadruped robot. Credit: EPFL

Thanks to its legs, whose design faithfully reproduces feline morphology, EPFL's 4-legged 'cheetah-cub robot' has the same advantages as its model: It is small, light and fast.

Even though it doesn't have a head, you can still tell what kind of animal it is: the robot is definitely modeled upon a cat. Developed by EPFL's Biorobotics Laboratory (Biorob), the "cheetah-cub robot," a small-size quadruped , is described in an article appearing today in the International Journal of Robotics Research. The purpose of the platform is to encourage research in biomechanics; its particularity is the design of its legs, which make it very fast and stable. Robots developed from this concept could eventually be used in search and rescue missions or for exploration.

This robot is the fastest in its category, namely in normalized speed for small quadruped robots under 30Kg. During tests, it demonstrated its ability to run nearly seven times its body length in one second. Although not as agile as a real cat, it still has excellent auto-stabilization characteristics when running at full speed or over a course that included disturbances such as small steps. In addition, the robot is extremely light, compact, and robust and can be easily assembled from materials that are inexpensive and readily available.

Faithful reproduction

The machine's strengths all reside in the design of its legs. The researchers developed a new model with this robot, one that is based on the meticulous observation and faithful reproduction of the feline leg. The number of segments – three on each leg – and their proportions are the same as they are on a cat. Springs are used to reproduce , and actuators – small motors that convert energy into movement – are used to replace the muscles.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Thanks to the design of its legs, which faithfully mimic feline morphology, EPFL's four-legged "cheetah-cub robot" shares the advantages of its biological model: it is small, light and runs very fast. In the long term, this type of machine, which is still in an experimental stage, could be used in search and rescue missions or for exploration. Credit: EPFL

"This gives the robot the from which cats benefit, that's to say a marked running ability and in the right spots, to ensure stability," explains Alexander Sprowitz, a Biorob scientist. "The robot is thus naturally more autonomous."

Sized for a search

According to Biorob director Auke Ijspeert, this invention is the logical follow-up of research the lab has done into locomotion that included a salamander robot and a lamprey robot. "It's still in the experimental stages, but the long-term goal of the -cub robot is to be able to develop fast, agile, ground-hugging machines for use in exploration, for example for in natural disaster situations. Studying and using the principles of the animal kingdom to develop new solutions for use in robots is the essence of our research."

Explore further: Students' autonomous robot project could be a lifesaver

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Microsoft unveils Xbox in China as it faces probe

1 hour ago

Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled its Xbox game console in China, the first to enter the market after an official ban 14 years ago, even as it faces a Chinese government probe over business practices.

Teens love vacation selfies; adults, not so much

1 hour ago

(AP)—Jacquie Whitt's trip to the Galapagos with a group of teenagers was memorable not just for the scenery and wildlife, but also for the way the kids preserved their memories. It was, said Whitt, a "selfie ...

Tiny UAVs and hummingbirds are put to test

2 hours ago

Hummingbirds in nature exhibit expert engineering skills, the only birds capable of sustained hovering. A team from the US, British Columbia, and the Netherlands have completed tests to learn more about the ...

US spy agency patents car seat for kids

5 hours ago

Electronic eavesdropping is the National Security Agency's forte, but it seems it also has a special interest in children's car seats, Foreign Policy magazine reported Wednesday.

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sean_W
1.5 / 5 (8) Jun 17, 2013
I can haz D-cell batteries?
Expiorer
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 17, 2013
Nothing to see here.
Sill worse than wheel-bot.
Birger
5 / 5 (4) Jun 17, 2013
To emulate the whole cat experience you need a robot that extend claws and pierce your arms while purring, regurgitates food and goes crazy around midnight. If you have several robots I suggest you give them all the same positive or negative charge so they move apart when you try to herd them.
grondilu
5 / 5 (1) Jun 18, 2013
Am I the only one who's being amazed by the amount of cool stuff that come out of EPFL?? It's like there is a new article about them everyday. What is it with this school?
Humpty
1 / 5 (7) Jun 24, 2013
Mmmmm how long until we see "The Hound" - Aka "Fahrenheit 451".

Sending mechanical animals to track and kill people....

Very christian.

How USA "murder for play" can you get?