on May 1st, 2019

There are two schools of thought when people see a back flipping robot. Some - and they’re probably engineers - find it absolutely awe inspiring. And some have overtly negative reactions and feel a little creeped out by it.

Nonetheless, engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Biomimetic Robotics Laboratory have designed a robot that can backflip on demand. It is called the Mini Cheetah. The engineers proclaim the robot is ‘powerful, robust, and inexpensive’ and it is indeed quite the marvel.

The robot is fast; it can run at up to 2.45 meters a second. It is also incredibly responsive to human interaction. In the video the engineers released, they are pictured toying with the robot and putting it through a plethora of ‘stress tests’. They are seen kicking it around, shoving it, and throwing it from a height to the ground. In all their tests, the robot reacts and centers itself - returning itself to its initial stance.

Source: Bryce Vickmark

Needless to say, there has been a large level of trial and error to get the robot actually doing the things the engineers hoped it would be capable of.

With its nimble abilities and impressive prowess, the robot is able to quickly adapt to whatever environment surrounds it.  The question next is: What could these robots be used for in the future?

The robot is fast; it can run at up to 2.45 meters a second. It is also incredibly responsive to human interaction. In the video the engineers released, they are pictured toying with the robot and putting it through a plethora of ‘stress tests’. They are seen kicking it around, shoving it, and throwing it from a height to the ground. In all their tests, the robot reacts and centers itself - returning itself to its initial stance.

Needless to say, there has been a large level of trial and error to get the robot actually doing the things the engineers hoped it would be capable of.

With its nimble abilities and impressive prowess, the robot is able to quickly adapt to whatever environment surrounds it.  The question next is: What could these robots be used for in the future?

 

Showing it off and shipping it out

The group of mechanical engineers behind the Mini Cheetah have been experimenting with the design and producing other iterations of the robot. The team went to the MARS Conference two weeks ago. The conference is headed up by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.

Lead developer of the Cheetah robots, Benjamin Katz, told media:

“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.”

At the conference they showed off their bigger iteration of their Cheetah robots, the Cheetah 3. The engineers are prepping ten Cheetah robots and are lending their technology to research labs that can continue building on what they have already engineered.

The engineers are proud to tout that their robot is the first four-legged robot in the world that can do a complete 360 degree backflip. The first robot to do so was Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot. Where all of this mechanical engineering experimentation might land up? Nobody seems to know. For now, it is undeniably cool.

 

Works Cited

“MIT's Mini Cheetah Robot Can Do Backflips.” Interesting Engineering, interestingengineering.com/video/watch-mits-mini-cheetah-robot-do-backflips.


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