Engineers at Boston Dynamics don't yet have their four-legged robot running anywhere close to the speed of a cheetah (75 miles per hour), or even sprinter Usain Bolt (27 mph) for that matter, but it's the fastest legged robot in history running a brisk 18 mph. The previous record of 13 mph was achieved at MIT in 1989.
Boston Dynamics has a history with the U.S. military building legged robots BigDog and AlphaDog as well as the Sand Flea, a robot that can leap over buildings. The Cheetah is their latest endeavor, which Boston Dynamics officials hope will reach even higher speeds than the plodding 18 mph.
The lab posted a You Tube video of the Cheetah running on a high speed treadmill building up from 2.5 mph all the way to the historic 18 mph. Boston Dynamics said they plan to soon test the Cheetah outside allowing it to run free of any wires. Officials seemed to hint in the press release that they plan to get the Cheetah running up to 50 mph after saying the treadmill was designed to go that fast.
“While 18 mph is a good start, our goal is to get Cheetah running much faster and outdoors,” said Alfred Rizzi, technical lead for the Cheetah effort and Chief Robotics Scientist at Boston Dynamics. “We designed the treadmill to go over 50 mph, but we plan to get off the treadmill and into the field as soon as possible. We really want to understand the limits of what is possible for fast-moving robots."
Future speed bots will remember this video much like their slow footed humans remember the clip of fictional Soviet boxer Drago running on a similar high speed treadmill before getting pummeled by Rocky and then settling the Cold War in one fell swoop.
Since you're unlikely to get on the treadmill yourself this afternoon why not click below and watch this Cheetah run.