US robotic 'cheetah' breaks speed records

2012-03-06 22:04

Washington - The Pentagon's main research agency has created the fastest-ever land robot, named "Cheetah," which can gallop at a speed of 29km/h, scientists said this week.

The headless robot looks about the size of a small dog and is shown running on a treadmill in pictures and video released Monday by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).

"The robot's movements are patterned after those of fast-running animals in nature," Darpa said in a statement.

"The robot increases its stride and running speed by flexing and un-flexing its back on each step, much as an actual cheetah does."

Cheetah's dash has set a "new land speed record for legged robots," besting the previous holder of 21km/h set in 1989, the agency added.

The robot was created with the help of Boston Dynamics in Waltham, Massachusetts as part of Darpa's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) programme which seeks to advance robotic technology.

Someday, such speedy robots could better help the US military with missions to dispose of roadside bombs and navigate other battlefield perils, the secretive agency said, declining an interview request for more information.

"The use of ground robots in military explosive-ordinance-disposal missions already saves many lives and prevents thousands of other casualties," the Darpa statement said.

"If the current limitations on mobility and manipulation capabilities of robots can be overcome, robots could much more effectively assist soldiers across a greater range of missions."

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