Massachusetts Institute of Technologies has introduced a new version of Cheetah robot – the Cheetah 3. The new robot is now capable of doing multiple advanced movements such as galloping across a rough terrain, climbing stairs littered with debris and particles, recovering its balanced after being hit, jumping on higher surfaces etc. Moreover, the Cheetah 3 does it all without a support of cameras – in other words, blindly.
Here is how the MIT describes this blind movement technology:
The 90-pound mechanical beast — about the size of a full-grown Labrador — is intentionally designed to do all this without relying on cameras or any external environmental sensors. Instead, it nimbly “feels” its way through its surroundings in a way that engineers describe as “blind locomotion,” much like making one’s way across a pitch-black room.
MIT also quotes Sangbae Kim, the designer of this robot, who said:
There are many unexpected behaviors the robot should be able to handle without relying too much on vision.
Vision can be noisy, slightly inaccurate, and sometimes not available, and if you rely too much on vision, your robot has to be very accurate in position and eventually will be slow. So we want the robot to rely more on tactile information. That way, it can handle unexpected obstacles while moving fast.
This project was supported by Naver, Toyota Research Institute, Foxconn, and Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The developers will showcase the new capabilities of the Cheetah 3 robot in October at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots, in Madrid.
From the standpoint of military use, such robots may become a valuable asset in squad level allowing to carry additional equipment and munitions while accompanying the troops in rough terrain environments where utilization of wheeled or tracked vehicles is either physically impossible or tactically disadvantageous. Such robots can also be important tools for reconnaissance and operations in high-risk areas and environments where the presence of personnel can be unjustifiedly dangerous.
Chu J. (2018, July 4). ” “Blind” Cheetah 3 robot can climb stairs littered with obstacles“. MIT News Office. Retrieved from: http://news.mit.edu/2018/blind-cheetah-robot-climb-stairs-obstacles-disaster-zones-0705
Images from ww.mit.edu