Boston Dynamics and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been taking turns pushing the envelope of what’s possible in robotics. Today it’s MIT’s turn, and in a new video the MIT Department of Biomimetics shows off the Mini Cheetah robots and what they can do.
Nine of them appear in the video. They’re about the size of a small dog, extremely limber, and quite agile. The video shows them playing with a soccer ball, jumping over one another, generally horsing around, and even doing backflips. The Mini Cheetah is the first quadruped robot able to do them, and according to MIT they’re also “virtually indestructible.”
“A big part of why we built this robot is that it makes it so easy to experiment and just try crazy things, because the robot is super robust and doesn’t break easily,” MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering’s Benjamin Katz said. “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,” associate professor of mechanical engineering Sangbae Kim added. “That’s how you accelerate research.”
The Mini Cheetah is a smaller version of the Cheetah 3 (the original Cheetah, five years ago, was a hand-wired monster the size of a great dane). Currently the robots can’t make their own decisions as to where to go and what to do, but a wireless uplink could make that possible in future versions.
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