DARPA’s four legged robot, dubbed Cheetah, isn’t quite on pace with its animal counterparts just yet, but the robotic sprinter has surpassed the world’s fastest man, six time gold medalist Usain Bolt.
Information Week reports that the robotic cheetah, which is being developed by Boston Dynamics with the help of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, set a new speed record by hitting 28.3 miles per hour during a 20 meter sprint. Bolt hit a top speed of 27.78 mph, the world record for a human, in 2009 during a 100 meter sprint.
Boston Dynamics is proud of the achievement but said that it really wasn’t a fair race since the robotic cheetah runs on a treadmill.
Boston Dynamics said in a statement:
“To be fair, keep in mind that the Cheetah robot runs on a treadmill without wind drag and has an off-board power supply that it does not carry. So Bolt is still the superior athlete.”
Dr. Alfred Rizzi, the head of Cheetah program, said that he hopes to start testing an outdoor robotic cheetah called Wildcat sometime next year.
“Our real goal is to create a robot that moves freely outdoors while it runs fast. We are building an outdoor version that we call Wildcat, that should be ready for testing early next year.”
Here’s a video of the robotic cheetah’s latest world record sprint.
DARPA program manager Gill Pratt, said:
“Our Cheetah bot borrows ideas from nature’s design to inform stride patterns, flexing and unflexing of parts like the back, placement of limbs and stability… What we gain through Cheetah and related research efforts are technological building blocks that create possibilities for a whole range of robots suited to future Department of Defense missions.”