Cheetah-Cub Robot: Swiss Search-And-Rescue Cat Robot Runs At Record Speeds [VIDEO]
Swiss researchers have created a cat robot that runs about 5 feet per second, making it the fastest small four-footed robot.
The robot was created for possible use in search and rescue operations.
"The very big potential for legged robots is application in rough terrain," said Alexander Sproewitz, a biomechanical roboticist and one of the researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL). A cat robot would be better in rocky terrain or in rubble than a robot on wheels.
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"It's still in the experimental stages, but the long-term goal of the cheetah-cub robot is to be able to develop fast, agile, ground-hugging machines for use in exploration, for example for search and rescue in natural disaster situations," said Auke Ijspeert, director of the project. "Studying and using the principles of the animal kingdom to develop new solutions for use in robots is the essence of our research."
Though the cat robot is headless, it runs in a cat-like way. The Swiss researchers call it the "cheetah-cub robot," as it resembles a smaller version of MIT's Cheetah robot.
The cat robot, which is 2.2 pounds and roughly 8 inches long, has legs designed to be like a real cat's. That's the key to the machine's effectiveness, says the EPFL.
"The machine's strengths all reside in the design of its legs," says the EPFL website. "The researchers developed a new model with this robot, one that is based on the meticulous observation and faithful reproduction of the feline leg. The number of segments -- three on each leg -- and their proportions are the same as they are on a cat. Springs are used to reproduce tendons, and actuators -- small motors that convert energy into movement -- are used to replace the muscles."
This isn't the first time that animals have been the inspiration for search and rescue robots. In April, Carnegie Mellon showed off its snake robot, which can slither into collapsed buildings. Robots designed based on animal characteristics are known as biomimetic robots.
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