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MIT Develops Fast, Powerful, Cheetah-Inspired Robot

MIT researchers have created a robot, inspired by the cheetah,that is faster and more powerful than conventional robots. The prototype battery-powered Cheetah robot, which researchers control using video game-based technology, weighs 31 kilograms (68 pounds) – comparable to its biological counterpart -- and can run 16 kilometers (9.9 miles) per hour (10 miles/hour for 15 minutes. “This is kind of a Ferrari in the robotics world,” said Sangbae Kim, head of the MIT Biomimetic Robotics Lab. The robot is inspired by the cheetah’s speed and agility and shares its bounding gait. During the five-year, DARPA-funded development process, the researchers had to specially design the components because conventional technologies couldn’t yield the performance they wanted. Some of the components include 12 light, powerful motors controlled by and an onboard computer that also processes data from various sensors. The researchers also designed an algorithm that calculates matters such as the force each leg needs to propel the robot while still keeping it balanced. They are continuing to refine their technology and adding sensors to help the robot operate autonomously. They say their technologies and components could be applied to prosthetics, wearable technologies, and vehicles, and eventually could be used for search and rescue operations too dangerous for humans. (The Associated Press @ CBC News)(The Telegraph)(MIT Biomimetic Robotics Lab)

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