PKONWEB Report (New York) — MIT’S new mini cheetah robot is the first four-legged robot to do a 360 degree backflip from a standing position.
The Mini Cheetah is far smaller than the latest version of the Cheetah robot, which tipped the scales at 90 lb (41 kg) making it the size of a fully developed large dog.
At only 20 pounds the new version of mini cheetah can bend and swing its legs wide, enabling it to walk either right side up or upside down.
The robot can also trot over uneven terrain about twice as fast as an average person’s walking speed.
When kicked to the ground, the robot can quickly right itself with a swift, kung-fu-like swing of its elbows.
This calls to mind the gymnastics abilities of Boston Dynamic’s Atlas humanoid robot, which first impressed with a graceful backflip and clean landing back in 2017. But according to MIT researchers, their Mini Cheetah is the first four-legged robot to perform such a feat.
The robot is capable of running up to five miles per hour. Each of its four legs are powered by three inexpensive electric motors.
Its design is based upon commercially available motors that can be found in drones.
Researchers claim the mini cheetah is designed to be “virtually indestructible,” recovering with little damage, even if a backflip ends in a spill.
In the event that a limb or motor does break, the mini cheetah is designed with modularity in mind. “You could put these parts together, almost like Legos,” says lead developer Benjamin Katz, a technical associate in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.
“It can do really dynamic stuff, like jump in the air with every step, or run with two feet on the ground at a time. Most robots aren’t capable of doing this,” Katz added.
Mini cheetah can also dance in circles and bound across smooth surfaces. In the future, they want the mini cheetah to be able to land on its feet if you give it a toss.
The researchers will present the mini cheetah’s design at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, in May. They are currently building more of the four-legged machines, aiming for a set of 10, each of which they hope to loan out to other labs.