03:24 PM
Core System Testing: How to Achieve Success
Oct 06, 2016
Property and Casualty Insurers have been investing in modernizing their core systems to provide fl ...Read More>>

DARPA Cheetah Robot Sets World Speed Record

DARPA bot sets new world record that's faster than Usain Bolt's human record.

Defense Tech: 20 War-Fighting Innovations
Military Transformers: 20 Innovative Defense Technologies
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
A robot has outpaced the world's fastest man, six-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt.

The four-legged robot, dubbed Cheetah and developed by Boston Dynamics on behalf of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, set a speed record of 28.3 miles per hour over 20 meters. Bolt, who won three gold medals in the 2012 Olympics in London, set a human record in 2009 with a top speed of 27.78 mph for 20 meters during a 100-meter sprint.

Cheetah did have an advantage, as its record-setting performance was done on a treadmill. That was comparable to running with a tail wind, since most of the robot's effort was used to lift and swing its legs fast enough to keep pace, not to propel it.

The robot had already claimed the world record for legged robots in March, when it ran 18 mph on the treadmill. The previous record of 13.1 mph was set in 1989.

Cheetah is powered by an outside hydraulic pump, and a boom-like arm keeps it centered on the treadmill. The 57% speed gain came from improved control algorithms and a more powerful pump.

Cheetah was developed as part of DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program. Legged robots would be useful in rough terrain because they can step over obstacles or ditches. Yet, because it's difficult to coordinate leg movement, legged robots have sacrificed speed for balance and mobility.

Cheetah's movements are based on the way fast animals run in nature, by flexing and straightening its back on each step, for example. DARPA is attempting to build robots with "core capabilities that living organisms have refined over millennia of evolution: efficient locomotion, manipulation of objects, and adaptability to environments," said M3 program manager Gill Pratt in a statement on Cheetah's achievement.

Cheetah "borrows ideas from nature's design" in its stride patterns, flexing and unflexing of parts, placement of limbs, and stability, Pratt said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
9/8/2012 | 6:35:15 AM
re: DARPA Cheetah Robot Sets World Speed Record
While locomotion via mimicking a land mammal is probably not optimal, it really does show the potential for technology improving on a natural design.

My suggestion is to use a body supported by multi-flex tendrils. Coordination can be learned and optimized via a neural net. Such locomotion ought to be superior not only in speed, but also coordination, durability, and flexibility.

Don't want to scare the squares, but such technology is sick.
InformationWeek Elite 100
InformationWeek Elite 100
Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.