MIT's scary 'Mini Cheetah' robot can do backflips, resist kicks
In a major development, researchers at MIT have unveiled 'Mini Cheetah', a smaller counterpart of their four-legged Cheetah robot. The new machine can walk or traverse stairs like a regular pet but unlike animals or even most humans, it performs some slick acrobatic moves, including backflips. It is the first quadrupedal robot in the world to actually do that. Here's all about Mini Cheetah.
Mini Cheetah: Light bot with fancy tricks up its sleeve
The Mini Cheetah weighs around 9Kg and performs insanely perfect backflips - from a still position - to land with full stability. This is something you don't usually see (even from a real dog), but that's not the only trick of the bot. Mini Cheetah can even resist direct kicks, pick itself up from falls, pronk, and walk upside-down as we saw in Exorcist.
Plus, it trots along uneven tracks faster than humans
Additionally, Mini Cheetah trots along less-than-smooth tracks at a speed twice as fast as that of a human being, which, again, is extremely impressive.
How Mini Cheetah achieves these capabilities
Speaking to the Washington Post, the MIT researchers who designed Mini Cheetah claimed that the machine uses 3D vision cameras and 12 electric motors, 3 in each leg, to perform a range of actions. The motors, as they said, power the machine, helping it bend (at joints) and swing its legs, change directions, and make high-force impacts without any damage.
Backflips verify the robustness of Mini Cheetah
"It's also a good stress-test of the hardware," team member Benjamin Katz said about the backflip test. "It involves very high torque, power, and acceleration capability, and has a high-speed impact at the end, all of which are very harsh on the robot's mechanical components."
Future hopes from Mini Cheetah
Though Mini Cheetah's capabilities remind us of the scary 'Black Mirror: Metalhead', it's important to note this is just a research project. The researchers hope to advance the capabilities of these machines to the point at which they are able to take over search and rescue missions or accomplish tasks not safe for humans. We just hope they don't go rogue when that happens!
What Mini Cheetah's elder sibling can do
MIT's original Cheetah robot weighs around 40Kg and can easily perform activities ranging from running at high speeds and jumping onto desks to climbing obstacle-laden stairs.
Even Boston Dynamics is building some terrifying robots
Interestingly, MIT's Cheetah robot family isn't the only one nailing terrifying moves. Boston Dynamics, the SoftBank acquired robotics company, has already unveiled a range of robots, including the famous SpotMini and ATLAS. The former looks like a polished robot-dog which can open doors, carry heavy loads while the latter - a humanoid - nails backflips and leaps over hurdles swiftly.