Developed for DARPA, Boston Dynamics’ Cheetah robot broke a new speed record recently, and it’s capable of running at 28.3 mph, on a treadmill. That’s faster than Usain Bolt, the current fastest man on Earth.
Usain Bolt’s fastest speed over 20 meters was 27.78 mph. The Cheetah can attain 28.3 mph, in controlled conditions. It remains to be seen if this robot can attain this speed in real world conditions.
The four-legged robot looks slightly clumsy until you see that it replicates the gait of feline at higher speeds. The quadrupedal robot had attained 18 mph just 6 months ago. It’s an impressive feat that it surpassed its previous record by more than 10 mph.
The Cheetah had no wind drag to set this record, and had an off-board power supply. The team behind the Cheetah has been able to increase the amount of power that’s shunted into the robot. This allowed for faster motion and better control of the actuators. The control system has also been refined, augmenting the coordination of the legs.
At the end of the video, the robot starts to go faster, but loses control and slips. That means that there is even more room for improvement. The next step is to build an untethered version, one with an onboard engine and operator controls that work in 3D.
The outdoor version will be called WildCat, and should be ready for early testing next year. The robot is marketed as an emergency response to offer humanitarian assistance or on defense missions.