This video shows a demonstration of the "Cheetah" robot galloping at speeds of up to 18 miles per hour (mph), setting a new land speed record for legged robots. The previous record was 13.1 mph, set in 1989.
The current version of the Cheetah robot runs on a laboratory treadmill where it is powered by an off-board hydraulic pump, and uses a boom-like device to keep it running in the center of the treadmill. Testing of a free-running prototype is planned for later this year.
While the M3 program conducts basic research and is not focused on specific military missions, the technology it aims to develop could have a wide range of potential military applications.
Robots hold great promise for amplifying human effectiveness in Defense operations. Compared to human beings and animals, however, the mobility and manipulation capability of present day robots is poor. In addition, design and manufacturing of current robotic systems are time consuming, and fabrication costs remain high. If these limitations were overcome, robots could assist in the execution of military operations far more effectively across a far greater range of missions.
The Cheetah robot is running 3.3 minute miles. Men at the gym typically have their treadmill set to about 7 miles per hour, or 8:30 minutes per mile. They can probably run faster if they try, maybe 8.5 miles per hour if they pushed it. Very few gymrats can run 9 miles per hour, 10 miles per hour is much harder.
The gymrats are usually in better shape than average couch potato: the average man probably can't run a mile at all, or possibly an 11-12 minute mile.
Olympic runners can do < 4:00 minute miles. Champion marathon runners do 4:45 minute miles. A very good, but not professional, marathon runner can do a mile in 5-6 minutes. A good time for a recreational runner in a marathon is 4 hours, which is 9+ minute miles.
But neither man nor mechanical cheetah is any match for the real thing.A cheetah can run at speeds of up to 75 to 80 mph, for short periods of time.
DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program is striving to create and demonstrate significant scientific and engineering advances in robotics that will:
- Create a significantly improved scientific framework for the rapid design and fabrication of robot systems and greatly enhance robot mobility and manipulation in natural environments.
- Significantly improve robot capabilities through fundamentally new approaches to the engineering of better design tools, fabrication methods, and control algorithms.
The M3 program covers scientific advancement across four tracks: design tools, fabrication methodologies, control methods, and technology demonstration prototypes.
The DARPA M3 performer for Cheetah is Boston Dynamics of Waltham, Mass.
Contacts and sources: