MIT Built a Back-Flipping Cheetah Robot

No one asked for it, but researchers built another back-flipping robot anyway

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology describe the new robot they just built and unveiled as “powerful, robust and inexpensive.” Among its abilities, the robot can run, walk and (sigh) execute a perfect backflip upon command. This is either an impressive display of mechanical engineering prowess or a worrisome development, depending on your point of view.

This is also the first time a four-legged robot has been built with the ability to backflip, which you can see occur in the clip above. The robot crouches down a bit, then shoves itself into the air.

Lead developer Benjamin Katz, a technical associate in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, explained in a news release that the rate at which the robot can change forces on the ground is also really fast. When it’s running, for example, the robot’s feet are only on the ground for around 150 milliseconds at a time, “during which a computer tells it to increase the force on the foot, then change it to balance, and then decrease that force really fast to lift up.”

“Eventually, I’m hoping we could have a robotic dog race through an obstacle course, where each team controls a mini cheetah with different algorithms, and we can see which strategy is more effective,” said Sangbae Kim, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and in whose lab Katz worked. “That’s how you accelerate research.”

See the Robot in action –

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