The robots are coming for you. The boffins over Boston Dynamics have built a robot that can run 18mph (almost 29km/hr) — smashing the previous land speed record by almost 5mph.
Built with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the “Cheetah” can outrun most humans — which is a comforting thought, considering it looks like a cross between a rabid dog and a metallic spider from your worst nightmares.
The Cheetah is modelled after, you guessed it, a cheetah, and it was designed to mimic the type of movements four-legged animals make when they’re running. The spine also flexes when running (just like the big cat’s would), which is why the bot can run so fast.
But 18mph isn’t the end of the road for the robot — the researchers are continuing work on the cheetah and hope to increase its top speed to 50mph (that’s 80kmph… you don’t stand a chance). They also plan to get it off the treadmill, out of the lab and into the great outdoors by the end of the year.
The cheetah is most likely destined to wind up in military service — the researchers say the robot could be used to assist in rapid emergency response and rescue, as well as to chase or evade any poor human that gets in its way.
The cheetah is the latest in a line of cool-but-creepy robotic prototypes funded by DARPA. There is also the AlphaDog (a four legged tank than can track you with its ‘eyes’, climb over obstacles and get up when it falls down) and Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) which can hold a drill and unlock and open doors. Yep.