Published: Fri, March 08, 2019
Electronics | By Shannon Stone

MIT's Mini Cheetah Robot Can Backflip

MIT's Mini Cheetah Robot Can Backflip

Previous versions of Cheetah robot were more of a technology demonstrators rather than having any practical applications but Cheetah 3 is different.

Mini Cheetah is powered by 12 electrical motors that enable the machine to bend and swing its legs.

In a world dominated by Boston Dynamics creations, the Mini Cheetah could easily be considered a toy. If it falls, it can get back up, and the range of motion its legs have combined with excellent balance means it can navigate just about any type of terrain.

Researchers claim that the four-legged mini robot is created to be "virtually indestructible" and can trot over uneven terrain about twice as fast as an average human's walking speed.

Each leg is powered by three motors, to give it three degrees of freedom and a huge range of motion.

As of late, a same organization has created a series of four-legged robots - with names like Spot, Wildcat and BigDog - that can open doors, deliver substantial loads and run about 20 miles per hour.

A very important aspect of the film and also of the Mini Cheetah is represented by the ability of the robot to walk on uneven ground and where there are obstacles that could reduce the adhesion with the ground.

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.

Amazingly, the Mini Cheetah reportedly achieved the first ever backflip from a quadruped robot on its first attempt. "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".

What's even more impressive-or perhaps troubling-is how the robot can also walk upside down.

"This is super exciting", Kim adds. "We could do this with the mini cheetah on a desktop".

The team is building about 10 more mini cheetahs, which they plan to loan to other research groups.

The MIT team is now working on a landing controller - "I want to be able to pick up the robot and toss it, and just have it land on its feet", said Katz, "throw the robot into the window of a building and have it go explore inside" - and making more of the machines. With Cheetah 3, if you wanted to change anything you had to re-engineer a large part of the robot.

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