The latest creation from engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a New England Council member, is in a league of its own. The cheetah robot, inspired by the world’s fastest land animal and outfitted with state-of-the-art sensors, is the product of a five-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The robot is controlled by video game technology, and can run on batteries at speeds of more than 10 mph, jump over a foot high, and continue to gallop for at least 15 minutes— all while using less power than a microwave oven. To construct the robot, the team of MIT engineers used powerful yet lightweight motors, electronics to power each one of those motors, and a specially-crafted algorithm that determines the amount of force a leg should exert during the split second that it spends on the ground while running. Because of the highly unique and advanced nature of the cheetah, however, the team designed each of these parts from scratch. With three motors dedicated to each of its legs, the cheetah is capable of generating powerful forces at a variety of speeds.
“This is kind of a Ferrari in the robotics world, like, we have to put all the expensive components and make it really that instinctive,” said MIT professor Sangbae Kim, who leads the school’s Biomimetic Robotics Lab that designed the robot. “That’s the only way to get that speed.”
Despite the already impressive traits of the cheetah, the research team plans to continue to improve it, and hope to make the robot capable of saving a life within the next ten years. The New England Council congratulates MIT and its researchers on developing the innovative cheetah robot, and commends them for staying at the forefront of robotics research in New England and beyond.