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.
DARPA’s Cheetah robot—already the fastest legged robot in history—just broke its own land speed record of 18 miles per hour (mph). In the process, Cheetah also surpassed another very fast mover: Usain Bolt. According to the International Association of Athletics Federations, Bolt set the world speed record for a human in 2009 when he reached a peak speed of 27.78 mph for a 20-meter split during the 100-meter sprint. Cheetah was recently clocked at 28.3 mph for a 20-meter split. The Cheetah had a slight advantage over Bolt as it ran on a treadmill, the equivalent of a 28.3 mph tail wind, but most of the power Cheetah used was to swing its legs fast enough, not to propel itself forward.