Several years ago, the folks at MIT created a robot that they modeled after the cheetah. It featured four legs and it proved it could run at pretty fast speeds. Over the years that particular robot evolved and just last year, MIT improved upon it by making it battery-powered but at the same time maintaining its speed.
The robot could even jump heights of 40cm then but it looks like MIT has made further improvements since then. In the latest iteration of their cheetah robot, it seems that they have improved the height in which the robot can jump, bringing it to about 18-inches which when converted is a little over 45cm in height.
Not only can it jump that high, but it can do so while maintaining its speed of 5mph. The robot has also been trained to study any obstacles placed before it so that as it approaches, it can adjust itself so that it will be able to perform a jump, land safely, and do it all without breaking its speed.
So how is this different from the previous model? The previous model had used sensors such as an internal measurement unit combined with an accelerometer and a gyroscope, all of which helped the robot maintain its balance. However in the latest build, the team added a new LIDAR system that uses lasers to help map the terrain, thus giving the robot the ability to “see” and adapter to obstacles in its way.
According to the team leader Sangbae Kim, “It’s the first legged robot to be able leap hurdles like this autonomously. Many other robots can move faster on wheels, or maybe jump higher, but they can’t do it on their own.” Kim and his team are expected to hold a live demonstration at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in June.
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