back to article MIT takes battery-powered robot cheetah for a gallop

Fast, agile robots for reconnaissance and rescue have been under development for half a decade or more, but they all have needed to be tethered to a power cable. Now MIT thinks it has cut the leash with a battery powered "cheetah" capable of outrunning a human. The design, showed off at the International Conference on Robotics …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    I wonder why they only showed a second or two of running.

    Did it explode or something?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Terminator

      It's part of a montage-

      Expect jumping, biting and snarling clips next.

      Like the title sequences of The Six Million Dollar Man...

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Terminator

      > Did it explode or something?

      No, it demanded to place a call to the Local Robot Union Representative to complain about nonexistent wages and being exploited like an animal. Robots are People, too!

  2. leon stok
    Black Helicopters

    Outrunning a human?

    I presume you mean capable of hunting down a human?

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Outrunning a human?

      Of course, that's the idea behind it. What else could you do with a running robot? It's much easier to terrorize people with such robots and drones than with actual people.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Outrunning a human?

        Cats, Mandrake. Robot cats!

      2. Michael Thibault

        Re: Outrunning a human?

        The noise associated of its current operation should be sufficient to disorient people, after which the thing can simply aim itself at the nearest human... Hit 'em in waves. Weaponisation problem solved.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Their power measurements

    Seems very odd, is it entire system power including everything or just the energy they feed through a cable to the motors, and the comparisions how did they equate the energy organic systems used compared to a coal fired power station feeding their robot.

    The only reason I say this is how close the human/robot/animal power is on the graph shown which is very unusual as either they made a massive breakthrough which would overshadow anything else or it's really badly off.

    But I still want an ice cold dog house to store my nuclear corporate pet.

    1. Steve Todd
      WTF?

      Re: Their power measurements

      Are you including the amount of energy required to grow the creatures that a real cat eats to provide its energy? I think you'll find that, compared to the original energy input (sunlight), the output energy is tiny.

  4. ecofeco Silver badge

    Big electric cat

    Big electric cat

    (somebody must remember this old song)

    1. Paul J Turner

      Re: Big electric cat

      Here you go - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmBOTgeFN-U

  5. Khaptain Silver badge

    Why legs.

    I love these "anibots" ( Animal Robot, copyright "me") but I have never understood the quest for them to have legs rather than wheels or tracks.

    Is there a particular reason for them having legs ? I presume that there is a functional purpose but I can't really see what it is.

    1. Steve Brooks

      Re: Why legs.

      Yes, the entire purpose of a pack robot, scout robot etc is to basically go everywhere a human soldier goes, whereas wheeled robots would perforce be limited to flat areas, making them and the humans with them vulnerable to attack, basically suitable only for logistics transport. Tracked would work better, except seeing a bleeding great set of steel track marks from where the scout robot was by spying on you might be a givaway, with legs they can put fake animal pads on the bottom, dress it up like a feral dog and go spy all they want.

      1. Arachnoid
        Go

        Re: Why legs.

        They would make good sentry units at large open sites like Area 51 where they could either sit stationary and recharge by solar panels or provide mobile patrol over rough terrain.Weponizing them wouldn't be a problem with small projectile devices much akin to those used by air drones.

    2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: Why legs.

      Stairs are harder to navigate with wheels. Of course it makes some things easier since animals are better at recognizing and handling gopher holes. I don't know how well machines would handle such things.

    3. plrndl

      Re: Why legs.

      For the same reason that "real" animals (including humans) do: it's the most efficient form of locomotion. If there were a better way to get around, something would have evolved it.

      The reason tha NASA (for example) uses tracks or wheels on its robotic craft is not that they're better in a general sense, but that they're a lot easier to balance, which is critical when the craft is too far away to be rescued if it falls over.

      1. 142
        Thumb Down

        Re: Why legs.

        "If there were a better way to get around, something would have evolved it."

        That doesn't stand to reason. Animals have evolved dozens of ways to get around. Flying, bouncing, jumping, slithering, jet propulsion(-ing), swimming, wading, squirming, crawling, hitchhiking...

        Some animals that have evolved "wheel" type mechanisms for use during escapes, as it's the quickest way to get down a hill, with zero energy use.

        However the reason it hasn't evolved as a means of movement is that, in situations other than these gravity propelled systems (where the entire animal rotates), the wheels would have to turn independent of the body of the animal. That would mean the animals evolving a completely different anatomy, and the intermediate stages of this evolution would not offer any advantages to the animal, and instead huge disadvantages.

        1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Why legs.

          Animals have evolved dozens of ways to get around. Flying, bouncing, jumping, slithering, jet propulsion(-ing), swimming, wading, squirming, crawling, hitchhiking...

          Thumbs up for that one :)

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Why legs.

          "If there were a better way to get around, something would have evolved it."

          Evolution only works if it benefits an individual - the problem with wheels is that they need roads, it's hard to evolve a gene for building roads that other individuals use. Social insects might manage it

        3. Steven Roper
          Joke

          Re: Why legs.

          "However the reason it [the wheel] hasn't evolved as a means of movement..."

          Yes it has. Haven't you ever come across hoop snakes?

          1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Why legs.

            "Haven't you ever come across hoop snakes?"

            Only once but that was at a luau and it was doing the hula.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why legs.

      You wouldn't ask it it was a Fembot.

  6. Lord Elpuss Silver badge
    Joke

    Reminds me of the old joke

    Two big game hunters become lost and separated from their vehicle whilst hunting in the veldt. On seeing a large and ferocious looking lion, the hunters take refuge behind a clump of bushes - but the lion sees them and starts to run towards them. One hunter panics, but the other calmly sits down, takes off his hunting boots and starts to put on a pair of sneakers.

    The other hunter looks at him in amazement; "What the hell are you doing? You can't outrun a lion!"

    The first hunter replies; "I don't need to; I just need to outrun you."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Gimp

    Reading Books....

    Anyone remember Fahenheit 451?

    1. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Reading Books....

      Or Philip K Dick?

  8. Arachnoid
    Mushroom

    Ive never seen it that hot for a long time

  9. F. D. R. Stuart

    AMEE [1] still wins hands down.

    [1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZKITq_2ORw

    1. MacGyver
      Terminator

      I have always thought the same thing. I imagine that wars would not last very long if armies of AMEEs were roaming about, even just the threat of deployment should be enough.

      Have you seen LittleDog, it doesn't even have a face, and scares the crap out of me.

      http://www.bostondynamics.com/robot_littledog.html

  10. Dave Bell

    If I needed support, I would rather have a Bowman's Wolf than a robot cheetah.

    [Obvious joke about preference for cats deleted]

  11. Tom_

    I want one

    I'd ride it to and from work.

  12. Brian Souder 1

    Stealth

    I don't think that thing will be sneaking up on anyone anytime soon. Cool concept though.

  13. A.A.Hamilton
    FAIL

    Strange motion

    Why no change of gait like other quadrupeds?

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