MIT Took The Leash Off Its Frightening Robotic Cheetah To Show How High It Can Bound

Massachusetts Institute of Technology built a robot cheetah that could run. Now it can bound.

And that’s bound, unbound, as in free of the harnesses and treadmills we’ve seen in prototypes of running robotic quadrupeds in the past.

You can watch the full video after the jump, but here’s the monster in action:

There’s a couple of versions of this robot in development. The other is owned by Boston Dynamics, which was bought by Google earlier this year.

It’s been named Wildcat, runs on a go-kart engine and if you’re an AFL fan, looks a bit too much like West Coast Eagle Josh Kennedy lining up for goal to take seriously.

It does, however, holds the world speed record for robot cheetahs, clocking in at a Usain Bolt-catching 26km/h.

MIT’s cheetah (Cheetah 2, officially) has a much smoother gait, and runs on batteries, but currently maxes out at 17km/h. The team says there’s a better than average chance of it reaching 48km/h after further study of how cheetahs accelerate.

Just seeing it in action, in the wild, and jumping as high as 33cm is impressive enough for now, especially considering Cheetah 2 weighs about 31kg.

It’s actually quite graceful. MIT say that’s because its gait can adjust to variations in terrain, exerting a certain amount of force through its legs accordingly.

“Many sprinters, like Usain Bolt, don’t cycle their legs really fast,” associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT Sangbae Kim said.

“They actually increase their stride length by pushing downward harder and increasing their ground force, so they can fly more while keeping the same frequency.”

The team will shed more light on the bounding algorithm this Tuesday at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Chicago.

And because our Josh Kennedy jibe was a bit unfair, here’s a better example of Wildcat in action:

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