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Bound for Robotic Glory

By MIT News

September 15, 2014

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed an algorithm for bounding and successfully implemented it in a robotic cheetah. During testing, the robot sprinted up to a speed of 10 miles per hour, and was able to continue running after clearing a hurdle.

The current version of the robot has the potential to reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, according to the researchers. Each of the robot's legs is programmed to exert a certain amount of force in the fraction of a second that it hits the ground, which enables it to maintain a given speed.

By adapting a force-based approach, the cheetah-bot can run on rougher terrain, such as a grassy field, according to MIT professor Sangbae Kim. "That's what makes the MIT cheetah so special: you can actually control the force profile for a very short period of time, followed by a hefty impact with the ground, which makes it more stable, agile, and dynamic," Kim says.

The algorithm's force prescriptions enable the robot to run at higher speeds without falling by precisely controlling the forces the robot can exert while running.

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