Science News

MIT Cheetah Robot Sees And Jumps Over Obstacles While Running

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have built a four-legged “cheetah” robot that can “see,” jump over hurdles as it runs and even plan its own path.

According to a news release from the private Cambridge-based research university, the cheetah robot plans out its path, much like the university’s Star Trek inspired submersible robots capable of planning their own missions, and jumps over obstacles autonomously.  In experiments conducted on a treadmill and an indoor track, the robot managed to successfully clear obstacles up to 18 inches tall more than half its height while maintaining an average running speed of 5 miles per hour.

The robot cheetah was first unveiled last September when its creators demonstrated its ability to run untethered. Now, the robot can “see” through the use of onboard LIDAR- a visual system which utilizes reflections from a laser to map terrain.

Using the LIDAR data and a three-part algorithm, the cheetah bot is able to plan its own path. The algorithm’s first component detects the obstacle and estimates its size as well as distance.  The second component of the algorithm allows the robot to gauge the best position and time to execute a jump.  Upon reaching the ideal jumping point, the third algorithm is then used to determine the amount of force the robot will required to exert in order to clear the obstacle.

The robot and the algorithm it uses were developed by Sangbae Kim, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. Kim and his team will be demonstrating their robot’s running jump at the DARPA Robotics Challenge in June.

According to Kim, the cheetah bot is designed to “manage balance and energy” while handling the impact of landing, or in other words, the robot can jump while running. A maneuver which the mechanical engineer referred to in the aforementioned MIT news release as “a truly dynamic” and “highly dynamic” behavior.

A running jump is a truly dynamic behavior (…) You have to manage balance and energy, and be able to handle impact after landing. Our robot is specifically designed for those highly dynamic behaviors.

What do you think about this new cheetah robot?

Click to comment
To Top

Hi - Get Important Content Like This Delivered Directly To You

Get important content and more delivered to you once or twice a week.

We don't want an impostor using your email address so please look for an email from us and click the link to confirm your email address.