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article imageSay hi to Cheetah-bot, the fastest mechanical thing on 4 legs

By Sravanth Verma     Dec 2, 2014 in Technology
Cambridge - MIT engineers have designed a unique robot that runs at 10mph and can jump 16 inches high, land and continue running for 15 minutes, while powered by batteries.
The project, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense's, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was implemented by MIT's Biomimetic Robotics Lab. MIT professor Sangbae Kim, who lead the design team, describes the robot: "This is kind of a Ferrari in the robotics world, like, we have to put all the expensive components and make it really that instinctive. That's the only way to get that speed."
The robot, which weighs about 70 pounds or as much as an actual female cheetah, includes 12 lightweight motors, control electronics and a sophisticated algorithm that calculates the force to be exerted by the robot leg in the fraction of a second it spends on the ground while running. This algorithm it turns out holds the key to ensuring the robot stays stable and balanced while running and jumping.
"When the robot is running, at every step, we calculate the appropriate amount of the force to the legs so that the robot can balance itself," said MIT research scientist Hae-Won Park, who wrote the control algorithm. With this better control, the robot can tackle rough terrain and obstacles in its path. “Many sprinters, like Usain Bolt, don’t cycle their legs really fast,” Kim explained. “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 Cheetah-bot is the product of five years work, including of designing, testing, and replacing plenty of 3-D printed broken legs reinforced with Kevlar strips and carbon fiber. An Xbox controller for maneuvering and wireless Internet communications to send commands to the robot are also part of the design. The researchers are still improving the robot, and eventually, hope to do big things with it. "In the next 10 years, our goal is we are trying to make this robot to save a life," Kim said.
More about Robotics, Mit, cheetah robot
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