The Jumping Robot Built To Save Lives

The Jumping Robot Built To Save Lives

MIT’s Biomimetic Robotics Lab released its first video of the Cheetah robot in July 2012, although it had been mentioning it since 2009. This showed Cheetah walking and by May 2013 it could run at nearly 14 mph, while having an energy efficiency as good as that of real running animals of a similar size.

At that time it was the second fastest robot in the world, Boston Dynamics Wildcat being the only one that was any faster at twice the speed. However, Big Dog was not as energy efficient and the other big advantage of the Cheetah at this particular point in time was that it could run with on board batteries, where Wildcat had to be tethered to a power source.

Just two years later, Cheetah had been developed enough to jump over obstacles as it is running. The robot planned this pretty much like a human would by estimating the height and distance of the obstacle before coordinating its jump. For Cheetah to jump while running required management of balance and energy so that it could handle the impact of landing without having to stop. In its first trials it managed to jump over obstacles as high as 18 inches while maintaining an average speed of 5 mph.

2017 – Cheetah 3

Cheetah 3 made its debut in July 2017, and this time the dynamics behind it had changed a little. It still has all the same capabilities as before but now the developers have been focussing on making it suitable for more practical uses such as search and rescue. There are many situations where humans cannot enter the area, or at least you would not want them to, and it is here that robots can save the day.

The progress made with Cheetah 3 means that it can now navigate stairs or walk over rubble. It is able to move about on three legs and use its fourth one as an arm. It is hoped to soon have a dexterous hand attached so that it can handle more complex manoeuvres such as opening doors and moving things out of its way.

Because of its animal inspired four-legged construction, Cheetah 3 can manage tasks that traditional wheeled robots can’t and this puts it a step above many of them.

Big Dog And Cheetah 3

It has been noticed that there are some similarities between the Big Dog from Boston Dynamics and Cheetah 3. This is possibly because the funding for both projects came from DARPA, the end aim being the same – for them to be useful in search and rescue missions. The main difference between the two is that MIT have used electronics in their development, and Boston Dynamics have used hydraulics. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages for the developers to work with and overcome any difficulties.

Big Dog from Boston Dynamics

They have both exceeded each other in different things, but as for saving lives in disaster situations they, and others like them, could prove to be invaluable.

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