MIT’s Newest Dog-Like Robot Can Do Backflips on Command


But for the first time ever, a robot that was budding has performed a physical feat that evades all but the most athletic among us: a backflip.

The canine-like machine – dubbed”Mini Cheetah” – can also be able to trot over irregular terrain about twice as fast as an ordinary individual’s walking pace, researchers say.

Reached by email, Benjamin Katz, a technical partner at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering who helped design the robot, wrote that the backflip is not”inherently helpful,” but offers researchers a way to estimate the machine’s capabilities.

“It is also a good stress-test of this hardware,” he said. “It entails very high torque, power, and acceleration capability, and contains a high-speed impact at the conclusion, all of which are extremely harsh on the robot’s mechanical parts “

Mini Cheetah is powered by 12 electrical motors that allow the system to bend and fold its own legs. Every one of the robot’s four legs is powered by three different motors that engineers added to increase the machine’s range of movement and allow it to change direction and create”high-force impacts” without breaking its own limbs, researchers state. As a video released by MIT demonstrates, the robot has been programmed to quickly recover from an unexpected force, such as a kick to the side.

Having a generous range of motion and being able to adapt to various surfaces will probably be critical elements for budding robots which are set up by people sooner or later, researchers state.

“Legged robots will have many different uses in which individual or animallike mobility is necessary (scaling over stairs, stones, etc.) but it could be unsafe to send a person: search and rescue, inspection, surveillance and so on,” Katz wrote.

Mini Cheetah isn’t the first robot to execute a backflip. Atlas – the humanoid star of Boston Dynamics’ viral robot videos – has not only been performing backflips, but doing so after a set of complex box jumps the machine surmounts with ease.

In the last few decades, the identical firm has produced a run of four-legged robots – with names like Spot, Wildcat and BigDog – that may open doors, carry heavy loads and run almost 20 mph.

Last year, Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert told an audience in Germany his team is testing the business’s awkward, four-legged, doglike robot, SpotMini, for use in a number of industries, including security, delivery, construction and home assistance. The business states the 66-pound machine is two feet 9 inches tall and will be the quietest of the organization’s robots. It runs on electricity, has 17 joints and will go for 90 minutes on a single charge.

MIT researchers have their own strategies for their newest four-legged creation.

“Eventually, I’m hoping we could have a robotic dog race through an obstacle course, in which every team controls a mini cheetah with different algorithms, and we can see which approach is more effective,” Sangbae Kim, associate professor of mechanical engineering informed MIT News. “That is how you speed up research”


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