DARPA's 'Cheetah' Is the Fastest Robot on Legs

The cheetah-inspired robot sets a new world record with a top speed of 18 mph.

This video from DARPA demonstrates their cheetah-inspired robot running on a treadmill, reaching a top speed and new world record of 18 mph. The robot, as of now, can't run without the support of a "boom-like device" guiding it, but the video is freaky enough that it attracted over half a million YouTube views in its first day on the web. 

On the YouTube page, the researchers describe the mechanism that powers the machine:

The robot's movements are patterned after those of fast-running animals in nature. The robot increases its stride and running speed by flexing and un-flexing its back on each step, much as an actual cheetah does.

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.

For the sake of comparison, here is a video from Velocity Media Systems that shows a real live cheetah running in ultra slow motion:

For more videos from DARPA, visit their YouTube channel

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

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