These Korean Guys Have Unleashed a Robot Cheetah!
Yes, it matters that they're Korean!
...because, of course, AkihabaraNews.com is "Japan & Asia Tech • Cool and Cultural News." So, we saw this cool robot news, could hear in the accent that these researchers are actually from Korea, and boom: justification! (in fact, according to their MIT profiles, they both studied at Yonsei University in Seoul)
MIT's Cheetah Project
Okay, what really matters is that these guys are very bright, and what they're doing is very cool. We've seen this robot before, but today's video is the first demonstration of an untethered Cheetah, i.e., there are no power or support cables attached whilst Cheetah frolics in the quad.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Associate Professor Sang-Bae Kim and Research Scientist Hae-Won Park, both featured in the video and clearly the best kind of robodorky, have some pretty compelling motivations behind their study:
Untethered Electric Power
The now iconic videos of Boston Dynamics' Big Dog robot strutting around on asphalt, snow, ice and mud and recovering from being kicked, or the newer WildCat robot (video below), have a standout audio feature: the annoying whine of what sounds like an overclocked lawnmower engine - because that's basically what drives them. In an effort to demonstrate that batteries can be energy-dense and powerful enough for larger quadrupedal robots, the MIT researchers are developing a much quieter, less stinky, self-contained electric power source, i.e., no internal combustion, and no tether.
(not quite yet) Speed of Cheetah
While the Cheetah robot's top speed is currently just 10 mph (16 kph), the researchers are working toward a robot that might someday match the big African kitty's 60+ mph (96 kph). They're also teaching their mechanical version to jump over obstacles as high as 12 inches (30 cm). And, in true bio-inspired form, 'Cheetah' is not just an attempt at clever naming, the researchers actually modeled their robot's legs and gait on that of the animal.
Compare to Boston Dynamics' WildCat: