DARPA’s “Cheetah” robot set a new land speed record for legged robots, galloping at 18 miles per hour, topping the previous record of 13.1 miles per hour set in 1989.
The robot’s movements are designed to mimic those of fast-running animals in nature. The robot increases its stride and running speed by flexing and un-flexing its back on each step, much as an actual cheetah does.
The current version of the cheetah robot runs on a laboratory treadmill where it is powered by an off-board hydraulic pump and uses a boom-like device to keep it running in the center of the treadmill. Testing of a free-running prototype is planned for later this year.
The experiment is part of DARPA’s M3 program which conducts basic research and is not focused on specific military missions, however, the technology it aims to develop could have a wide range of potential military applications.