Updated 10:25 PM EST, Mon, Mar 08, 2021

MIT's Robot Cheetah Can Run, Jump [Video]

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Recent years have seen a lot of different researchers attempt to develop robots that can mimic human and animal movement, with varying degrees of success. Engineers at MIT are working on their own robot animal based on the cheetah, and they recently announced a pretty amazing development with their design.

A new algorithm implemented by MIT researchers now allows their robot cheetah to run stably at 10 miles per hour and also to jump over objects in mid-sprint. The cheetah just successfully completed a test run on the MIT campus over a grass field. 

There is a video below of the recent run and also video of the cheetah jumping over a small object while at a full gallop. The video also features MIT researchers explaining how they developed the cheetah and how it uses electric motors instead of traditional gas-powered engines. Using electric motors on the cheetah makes it more efficient and quieter. 

Engineers at MIT think their cheetah could eventually reach speeds close to 30 miles per hour. And that's just this version. Future versions of the cheetah could move even faster. 

The new algorithm that makes all this possible has to do with programming the cheetah to push the ground with a fixed amount of force precisely when its legs strike the ground. This amount of force is proportional to whatever the overall speed of the cheetah is, so, the faster it is going, the harder it must kick the ground at the precise moment of impact for each stride.

Sangbae Kim, an associate professor at MIT who is working on the cheetah project, said, "Many sprinters, like Usain Bolt, don't cycle their legs really fast. They actually increase their stride length by pushing downward harder and increasing their ground force, so they can fly more while keeping the same frequency."

This new algorithm attempts to bring the MIT cheetah's running motion closer to that of natural sprinting motion. 

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