A cheetah that is raring to go

The cheetah, which is the fastest land animal on Earth, is considered a masterpiece of natural design. Its body structure and shape of limbs are designed for one goal – speed. This wonderful creature has inspired a robot being developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States (US). Called the ‘cheetah robot,’ the mechanical animal runs at a speed of 10 miles an hour and is already the fastest robot on Earth.

How does it work?

The robot runs on batteries and can gallop (run) at 10 miles an hour for 15 minutes. It can even jump 16 inches and manages all this exercise using less power than a microwave oven.

How was it built?

Every part of the cheetah was specifically designed and created for the robot using a 3D printer. All parts are light yet super strong. It uses a lot of technology too. As the robot runs, a software programme calculates the amount of force that each leg should exert so that the robot keeps up speed and balance. But interestingly, the robot is controlled with an Xbox video game controller!

The robot looks like a mass of wires and lacks the fluid beauty of the cheetah, but its movement is smooth, quite unlike the jerky moves seen on other robots. It weighs around 31 kilos, the same as a real female cheetah.

What will it be used for?

The MIT project for building the cheetah robot is funded by the US military, which hopes to use it in search and rescue missions. It may be especially useful in war zones where it may be unsafe for human soldiers to rescue a missing person.  As one of the researchers leading the project told a newspaper recently: “In the next 10 years, our goal is we are trying to make this robot to save a life.”