Saturday, September 8, 2012

Robotic runner

Vehicles that run on wheels have played an essential role in human civilization ever since... the invention of the wheel.

And they're likely to continue to roll on for a long time into the future, at least up until somebody puts together an impeccable automobile that darts around on an air cushion.

Or maybe there'll be some kind of marvelous "personal mover" (unimagined today, like the personal computer a century ago) that will take us magically and rapidly—along with our kids and dog and shopping basket—from one place to another.

Vehicles that run on tracks can be useful in places where wheels wouldn't work well.

But, for getting over obstacles, nothing beats legs! So, engineers at DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and Boston Dynamics have been working enthusiastically on a speedy legged robot named Cheetah.

Recently, performing on its treadmill, Cheetah set a record of over 45 km/hour, which is slightly faster than Usain Bolt.

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