Human Achievement of the Day: “Cheetah” Breaks Legged-Robot Speed Record

Boston Dynamics, a defense technology research company, has created a cheetah-lookalike robot which recently broke a long standing record for fastest running speed achieved by a robot.

Inspired by its feline namesake, the Cheetah robot has four legs and a flexible spine, plus the ability to flex its back as it moves, like a real cat. As for its speed: the previous record dated back to 1989, when an MIT robot reached 13.1 mph. The Cheetah clocks in at a respectable 18 mph, setting the new world record.

The project was funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which funds research and technology development to aid the U.S. military.

This is not the company’s first foray into animal or humanoid robots: they also developed the BigDog robot which acts like a pack animal, carrying heavy loads while walking through rough terrain; and the Petman, a headless humanoid robot that does push-ups. All of Boston Dynamic’s products are designed with military use in mind and these projects will no doubt become increasingly sophisticated, useful and maybe even a little bit scarier in the coming years.

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Watch a video of the Cheetah in action below: