DARPA Robot Has the Need for Speed
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) might be getting ready for a trip to Rio de Janeiro. In 2016 the South American city will host the next Olympics games, and the agency already has a robot that can outrun the fastest human on the planet. The Cheetah project has created an advanced robot able to navigate difficult terrain in order to perform surveillance missions for the military.
The researchers decided to put their robotic “Cheetah” on a treadmill to test its top speed on relatively easy terrain. The cheetah had previously been clocked at 18 MPH, but the current version topped out at an amazing 28.3 MPH over a 20 meter increment. 20 meters happens to be the sample sized used to calculate the fastest human run. For comparison Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt covered a 20 meter section of track at 27.78 MPH during a record setting 100 meter run in 2009.
While the cheetah is blazing fast on the treadmill, don’t expect to see it challenging Bolt on the track anytime soon. Running on the treadmill gave the Cheetah the equivalent of running with tailwind, boosting performance, and the robot currently isn’t optimized for the quick starts required for competition. But with four years until Rio, DARPA scientists still have a lot of time to work out the kinks.