Monday, 15 December 2014

Can a robot cheetah save the world?

A robot which can run at speeds of more than 10 mph, jump almost 16 inches high, land safely and continue galloping for at least 15 minutes — all while using less power than a microwave oven has been unveiled by engineers at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

The robot, inspired by a cheetah, is hoped to have real world applications including prosthetic limbs, wearable technologies, all-terrain wheelchairs and vehicles that can travel efficiently in rough terrain.

The team have had to create most of the components from scratch including motors, sensors and an on board computer. They have even created an algorithm which calculates how much energy should be exerted by each leg whilst running!

"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, Head of the school's Biomimetic Robotics Lab. "That's the only way to get that speed."

Watching the video of the robot in action, you can really see the cat-like movements of the robot. To say it weighs 70 pounds, the robot moves smoothly compared to other robotic devices and it is really possible to see how this technology could be used to enhance and even save lives. It is hoped this type of robot could be used in search and rescue operations or in hostile environments where it is too dangerous to send humans in.

The team still have some way to go in perfecting the technology but have come a long way in the last 5 years. “In the next 10 years, our goal is we are trying to make this robot to save a life," Kim said.

A worthy aim and we wish them all the best in achieving it.

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