Scientists build robot that runs, call it "cheetah" A robotic cheetah runs on an athletic field at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts (AP photos)
Scientists build robot that runs, call it "cheetah"

It's a robot unlike any other, inspired by the world's fastest land animal. It's controlled by video game technology and packing nifty sensors.

The robot is called the cheetah. It can run on batteries at speeds of more than 10 mph. It can jump about 16 inches high, land safely and continue galloping for at least 15 minutes. And it does it all while using less power than a microwave oven.

It's the creation of researchers at the Massachusetts of Technology.

"This is kind of a Ferrari in the robotics world," 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."

Insight gleaned from the design of their prototype could have real-world applications. Those include the design of revolutionary artificial limbs, all-terrain wheelchairs and vehicles that can travel efficiently in rough terrain much like animals do, Kim said. There are hopes the robot will be able to be used in search and rescue operations.

Sensors inside the robot measure the angle of the leg. That information is sent to an onboard computer. It also organizes data from the Inertial Measurement Unit, or IMU. IMU is used to maneuver drones and ballistic missiles, MIT scientist Hae-Won Park said.

The MIT project is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The military research arm is also funding a similar robot being developed by Boston Dynamics.

Crafting the cheetah robot took five years of designing, testing and tweaking. It also took plenty of confidence to ignore critics. They said electric motors aren't strong enough to propel a running mechanical cheetah powered by batteries.

Researchers had to exercise a lot of patience during test runs. The robot broke dozens of legs manufactured by 3-D printers and reinforced with Kevlar strips and carbon fiber.

The results?

Strong, lightweight components that made running possible. They include a carbon fiber-and-foam sandwich frame that can absorb the forces generated by running and jumping.

Some off-the-shelf components came in handy. An Xbox controller is used to maneuver the robot. And wireless Internet communications send commands to the mechanical cheetah.

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

Critical thinking challenge: Why did scientists name their robot cheetah instead of some other animal?

Assigned 90 times

  • Aw2000red
    12/05/2014 - 08:45 a.m.

    That's amazing what technology can do now of days. You can make a cheetah run off of electricity. Scientist have found new ways to make different things.

  • LucasU-5
    12/05/2014 - 10:07 a.m.

    The article is about a robotic cheetah that can run an jump very quickly. The invention is very important and could pave the road to all new inventions from search and rescue missions to wheel chairs, and even artificial limbs. The device took a long time to make but it was created on battery power and has thin lightweight legs that have foam supports to absorb the damage done by regular jumping.

  • MaxG-4
    12/05/2014 - 10:29 a.m.

    This article was about designers creating an animal-like-robot. They named it cheetah after the animal due to its enormous speeds, that is for a robot. It had sensors that allows it to detect the angle of its leg. This robot took 5 years, and took many, many test trials. In the end they finally managed to make it. They made it controlled by an X-Box controller. In the next 10 years the want to save a life using this robot.

    I liked this article, cause it shows that we can still have some actually useful technological developments other than 4 new I-Phones or something like that. These sorts of things actually push forward technology, due to being an actually useful development. Hopefully we can learn to use this development well unlike most in our past.

  • MichaelaJ-3
    12/05/2014 - 10:33 a.m.

    The robot is called the cheetah. They say it can run on batteries at speeds of more than 10 mph. Also, it can jump about 16 inches high, and land safely and continue galloping for at least 15 minutes. Over all, it ends up using less power then a microwave oven. Research project at the Massachusetts of Technology. I believe that if they can make this cheetah robot go as fast or faster then a cheetah it could be used to help police man or even the secret service. These robots could help everyone.

  • DunhamS-4
    12/05/2014 - 10:37 a.m.

    This article was about a new robot created named Cheetah. It can run on batteries at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour. Kim from the Massachusetts institute of Technology states that she is hoping to be able to use Cheetah as something that can be used in revue operations. Even after being told by many that one could not operate such a thing based only on batteries, the MIT team finally created Cheetah. I think the name is misleading though, going only at 10 mph.

  • zacharyts
    12/05/2014 - 11:11 a.m.

    Wow! This robot cheetah looks very fast! I would like it to be bigger with spots that people could sit in! It would be like their very own horse! Only a robot! But I don't know if it would be good to have the robot under its own command. It would probably attack someone! Other then that, it looks like it took a long time to make. When it comes to technology, you can build amazing things!

  • raj232
    12/05/2014 - 11:17 a.m.

    because that robot run like cheeta and the model look like chaeta. I have question how that robot can save life? I like that robot call chaeta.

  • EthanI-5
    12/05/2014 - 11:50 a.m.

    Massachusetts has built a robotic cheetah. The cheetah can run up to 15 miles an hour. They hope in the future this robot could save life's. My opinion on this is that this is a cool toy that could be helpful.

  • hailey.barton60
    12/05/2014 - 12:43 p.m.

    I think that the cheetah robot can save a life in a rescue mission, but it might take more than 15 minutes of running in order to do that, but other than that it looks like it would be a good rescue machine.

  • L2000neon
    12/05/2014 - 01:02 p.m.

    I think its cool how they made that robot. Its must of been a lot of hard work and long time to make sure everything worked fine and was installed correctly.