Researchers are developing a Cheetah robot that could be used in rescue missions

1 Dec 2014

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The Cheetah. Photo via biomimetics.mit.edu

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The fastest land animal in the world is providing the inspiration for a new robot a team is developing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that could potentially be used in search-and-rescue operations.

As pointed out by ABC News, the Cheetah Bot is the result of five years of research and includes 12 lightweight motors, an onboard computer that controls sensors, and an algorithm that calculates the amount of force each leg should exert while in motion.

The battery-powered robot requires less juice than your average microwave but can run at speeds of more than 22 km/h and can leap 16 inches into the air before landing on its feet and continuing its stride. Some off-the-shelf components have been used to build the hardware, including an Xbox control pad that can be used to manoeuvre the robot.

“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,” MIT professor Sangbae Kim told ABC. “That’s the only way to get that speed.”

It is hoped that the prototype will offer insights into the development of new prosthetics, wearable technologies and all-terrain vehicles. As for the robot itself, engineers believe it could potentially be used in search-and-rescue operations in environments where it is impossible to send a human.

“In the next 10 years, our goal is we are trying to make this robot to save a life,” said Kim.

Here are some videos posted on YouTube from various stages of the Cheetah Bot’s development.

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Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com