There is now a robot that can run faster than Usain Bolt. Welcome to the future.
Usain Bolt, commonly called the fastest man alive, is a Jamaican sprinter who currently holds the world records for both the 100 meter and 200 meter sprint. Usain is the first man to win six gold medals in sprinting. Nevertheless, all that may not amount to much in the robot Olympics of the future.
So how important of an achievement is this? In truth there are many things that can run faster than Usain Bolt. A bear can run at 35 mph over short distances. A cheetah can hit speeds of 60 mph. The raptor isn’t even technically the fastest robot in the world. That medal belongs to the Boston Dynamics Cheetah, which can run at 29 mph.
But that’s on four legs. Galloping, not running. It’s unfair to pit Usain Bolt against something with four legs when he only has two.
The importance of this achievement is that it mimics the two legged running of a human. This technology opens the possibility of using the robot’s design and balance features to make robotic prosthetics for amputees, or simply bringing robots one step closer to replacing humans. To that end, the Raptor is also conveniently light-weight at only 6.5 pounds.
The Raptor has other features that make it a threat for Usain Bolt. It can dodge or jump over wooden objects placed in its way by using a tail for balance. Although it is currently limited to treadmills, researchers hope to continue to development until it can handle any terrain.
But the robot’s ability to beat Usain Bolt isn’t the only scary part of this story, there’s also the name. The researchers in Korea initially used the velociraptor dinosaur as inspiration for the design. Not only does the velociraptor’s theorized running form give advantages in balance and speed, it gives the Raptor the advantage as the most vicious animal-robot machination.
So how far away is an actual race with Usain and maybe that Robotic Cheetah?
Researchers say the Boston Dynamics Cheetah will be off the treadmill no sooner than one year. It’s not clear when the Raptor will make its first all-terrain debut. Until then Mr Bolt will have to polish his gold medals and wait.