Building robots that mimic animal behaviour is pretty common these days it would seem, and in 2014 the team making up the MIT Biomimetic Robotics Laboratory group (Massachusetts Institute of Technology in case you’re not familiar with the famous MIT abbreviation) unveiled their entry in the form of the Cheetah, a robot set apart by its bounding movement action.
Needless to say, the robot was glorious to see in action:
Fast forward a year, and the team has announced improved algorithms that now allows their Cheetah robot to hurdle over obstacles as it runs – making it the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously.
To get a running jump, the robot plans out its path going through the following sequence: As it detects an approaching obstacle (using LIDAR), it estimates that object’s height and distance. The robot then gauges the best position from which to jump, and adjusts its stride to land just short of the obstacle, before exerting enough force to push up and over. Based on the obstacle’s height, the robot then applies a certain amount of force to land safely, before resuming its initial pace.
In experiments on a treadmill and an indoor track, the cheetah robot successfully cleared obstacles up to 18 inches tall – more than half of the robot’s own height – while maintaining an average running speed of 5 miles per hour.
To see this in action is pretty amazing:
An incredible feat and yet another big step closer to that terrifying fear of being chased down by a killer robot becoming a reality!