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September 06, 2012

Boston Dynamics Cheetah robot with support runs faster than Usain Bolt

IEEE Spectrum - Boston Dynamics' Cheetah robot has just set a new record for legged robots by sprinting at 28.3 mph. This, incidentally, is also faster than Olympic (human) champion Usain Bolt, who set the world record for the 100 meter dash with a speed of 27.8 mph back in 2009.

The plan is to reach a speed of 50 mph.
They plan to remove the boom support and get onboard power by next year.
5 months ago the top speed was 18 mph.





To boost Cheetah's speed, Boston Dynamics "refined the control algorithms that coordinate the robot's leg and back motions and increased the installed power." Making the robot faster isn't just a matter of cranking up the power and increasing leg speed, but rather involves a biologically-inspired choreography of interactions between the robot's feet, legs, and back.

Cheetah, of course, is not running outdoors, where it would have to deal with wind resistance. It's also relying on off-board power, and without that boom in place, it would likely fall over, meaning that if you find yourself being chased by the current version of this robot, a simple movement to the left or right should stymie it completely whether you're Usain Bolt or not. With this in mind, Boston Dynamics concedes that "Bolt is still the superior athlete," but perhaps not for long: this is by no means the final version of Cheetah, and Boston Dynamics is currently creating a new version of the robot called WildCat that will be running outdoors as of early next year.


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