I’ve been really hyped lately for all the robotics news; from drones to robofish and now… to robot cheetahs.
On the one hand, we’re definitely not yet at the kind of awesome displayed by Holly- or Bollywood (if you get a chance to see Endhiran, you really should. It’s an awesome movie, very funny and really rather well done), but on the other hand… this is freaking amazing!
If you’ve watched the video – and if you haven’t then do so, right now! – you’ll see the device is truly approaching the kind of thing we’ve seen proposed and have dreamed about for years, and it truly is astounding to watch.
Powered by batteries, with fast-reacting and surprisingly powerful electric motors, the robot bounds across the grass at an impressive 10mph. No more stuttering, juddering, whining, whirring monstrosity, this thing is almost sleek as it powers past.
The gait they’re using is called bounding, a two-beat gait which is simple enough to start with (much simpler than four) – this is why the ‘paws’ are locked front and back. It actually mimics how real animals like cheetahs (and wolves, for example) run. From there, it’s relatively simple to start adapting the algorithm to cope with four beats, and to have the legs move independently at lower speeds. For now, though, it means the cheetah kind of hops as it moves… but it’s surprisingly effective, and allows it to jump over relatively large obstacles.
I am truly impressed. You know what I’d like to see? Robot horse racing… wouldn’t that be awesome?