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MIT’s Cheetah Robot Can Leap And Bound, Can’t Eat You (Yet)

The robot feline predator market is getting kind of crowded.

Last October, the Google-owned company Boston Dynamics released video of its four-legged WildCat robot galloping across a parking lot at top speeds up to 16 mph.

Now, MIT has released video of its cheetah-inspired robot bounding across a field and jumping over a hurdle.

In experiments, MIT researchers from its Biomimetics Robot Lab found that the robot can sprint up to 10 mph, untethered to any power source. Watch it go in the video above. They think the current prototype could eventually reach speeds up to 30 mph.

The project has been in the works for years, funded by DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation program, which aims to enhance robot movement capabilities. The recent advance is in the software, not the hardware. A new “bounding algorithm” calculates the exact force at which the robot’s legs need to hit the ground in order to propel it to a given speed. Mechanical engineering professor Sangbae Kim believes its a similar approach to how world-class sprinters race.

In other robot news today could be an even scarier development: A robot out of the U.K. that can load the dishwasher. Sure, a cheetah robot could run you down, but a robot with the skill to manipulate delicate objects on the fly? Now a whole new class of workers may soon have to watch out for the robots coming for their jobs.JL