MIT’s Four-Legged ‘Mini Cheetah’ Robot Climbs, Runs, Backflips

MIT’s Four-Legged ‘Mini Cheetah’ Robot Climbs, Runs, Backflips

MIT is already creating a small army of the small and relatively affordable robots, with 10 more on the way, "to form a mini cheetah research consortium of engineers, who can invent, swap, and even compete with new ideas", according to the school.

The new mini cheetah is a scaled-down version of the Cheetah 3 that we previously saw prancing around the MIT campus.

Each of the Mini Cheetah's limbs is powered by three electric motors that researchers engineered using off-the-shelf parts normally used in drones or remote-controlled aeroplanes.

They show Mini Cheetah's linear, lateral and rotational movements, its balance and orientation control and jumping ability.

The robot walks at double the speed of an average person and can easily run over bumpy, uneven terrain.

The MIT team is also working on developing another high-impact maneuver that the robot can carry out.

Interestingly, MIT's Cheetah robot family isn't the only one nailing terrifying moves.

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Reached by e mail, Benjamin Katz, a technical affiliate in MIT's Division of Mechanical Engineering who helped design the robotic, wrote that the backflip isn't "inherently helpful" however gives researchers a method to gauge the machine's capabilities.

The robot will be presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in May in Montreal, Canada.

"We thought it would be a good test of robot performance, because it takes a lot of power, torque, and there are huge impacts at the end of a flip", Katz says.

At only 20 pounds, it can walk either right side up or upside down.

They can already open doors, traverse steep flights of stairs, run at excessive pace and unload your dishwasher.

So they optimized the Mini Cheetah's program specifying all the torques of each individual motors, as well as the period between the start and stop on every twelve motors, and, as Katz remembers: 'The first time we tried it, it miraculously worked!'

You might remember that MIT has created a four-legged sort of cat-like robot a while ago but now it looks like the original also has an -excuse the pun- copycat. "Imagine Cheetah 3 doing a backflip - it would crash and probably destroy the treadmill". There are plans to build ten of the things and loan them out to other labs for more researchers to kick. With Cheetah 3, if you wanted to change anything you had to re-engineer a large part of the robot.