Tech

Robot Cheetah Could Finally Make Robots Walk Elegantly

By Donna Bellevue , Apr 21, 2017 06:20 AM EDT
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Scientists have developed prototypes of robots that mimic the fastest-running mammal in the world. The robot's exceptional mobility is to be applied to future robots that could walk elegantly and efficiently, so they can be optimized in the household or healthcare setting. (Photo : Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/YouTube)

Scientists from the University of Twente have developed a prototype cheetah robot that could mimic the speed of the fastest animal on earth. Created by Geert Folkertsma and his team, the animal-inspired robot is also a remarkably efficient runner despite its clunky appearance. This research has been primarily aimed to optimize the robots of the future so that they can better support humans in areas such as healthcare or housekeeping.

Geert Folkertsma and his team are roboticists who want to replicate the energy efficiency of cheetahs in their machines. A similar prototype has actually been unveiled five years ago by MIT engineers in the Biomimetic Robotics Lab. They created a 70-pound robot that rivaled the energy-efficiency of the real cheetah, while also developing an exceptional dexterity in jumping over obstacles and landing with stability.

To create his Cheetah robot prototype, Folkertsma studied video footages and utilized a software to pinpoint the nuances of the animal's movement. He wanted to understand how cheetahs can run so fast and efficiently, but also elegantly. According to Daily Mail, he plans to apply what he has learned in the research to other robots, and ultimately transfer the cheetah's elegant and efficient locomotion so that robots can start to walk elegantly with less required energy.

Unfortunately, the result is a robot that is far from a cheetah's appearance. According to Digital Trends, other than having four legs and a spine, the machines looks more like a spider with four legs. However, the way it runs, the dynamics, and the energy consumed to run the machine have satisfied the creators.

The robotic cheetah is twenty times lighter than a real cheetah and four times smaller, weighing 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) and standing 11 inches (30cm). For a small robot, it can move up to 0.6 miles per hour (1 km/h). The application for this research could open up a whole bunch of robotic functions ranging from assisting with domestic chores, improving health care procedures, and even enhancing the robotic aspects of developing prosthetics.

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