Meet the “Cheetah-bot”: “ The first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously”

Transformer robots are not just a figment of movie writer’s imagination.  Today they are a reality.

“Cheetah-bot” is a robot with the capability of running  up to 10 mph and resembles a cheetah,  the fastest animal on the planet, MIT researchers had shown. Described by MIT as “the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously”, this was made possible because of its latest improvements enabling the robot to jump by leaps and bounds.

The robot was successful in overcoming  all obstacles up to 18 inches tall which is more than half of the robot’s height, in the conducted experiments while it maintains a consistent speed of an average 5 miles per hour at all times.

Supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the research of this four-legged robot is intended to  create agile machines which can be applied in numerous situations. Cheetah-bot leaping abilities will soon be showcased  at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in Pomono, California next week.

Last September 2014, MIT associate professor of mechanical engineering, Sangbae Kim said, “Our goal is to use this kind of robot to save lives in a disaster situation. It could be used to help fire fighters or police in a dangerous situation.”

Operating via a technology dubbed as LIDAR, which utilizes  laser distance sensor to scan its surroundings, a three-part algorithm for planning out the path of the robot was developed by  the MIT team,  helping the bot in sensing the environment while it enables itself to determine which path to take,  thru the algorithms. Its ability to figure out the obstacle size of its route together with its capability in determining the  distance and the ability in determining the best way to clear an obstacle, like how high it has to leap to clear an obstacle or the angle it needs to approach when jumping.

“A running jump is a truly dynamic behavior. You have to manage balance and energy, and be able to handle impact after landing. Our robot is specifically designed for those highly dynamic behaviors,”  Sangbae Kim stated.





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