Robot Cheetah has grown up! Scientists at MIT's Biometrics Robotics Lab have now trained their robo-feline Cheetah to detect obstacles and jump over hurdles as it runs, making it the first four-legged robot able to run and jump autonomously.

"A running jump is a truly dynamic behavior" says Sangbae Kim, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. "You have to manage balance and energy, and be able to handle impact after landing. Our robot is specifically designed for those highly dynamic behaviors".

The cheetah's previous greatest accomplishment was that it was able to run untethered. A feat that the robot performed “blind” without the use of cameras or other vision systems, Kim noted.

Now, the robot can “see” thanks to an onboard LIDAR - a visual system that uses reflections from a laser to map terrain. The team developed a three-part algorithm to plan out the robot's path, based on LIDAR data. Both the vision and path-planning system are into the robot, giving it complete autonomous control.

Kim and his team will now work on getting the MIT cheetah to jump over hurdles while running on softer terrain, like a grassy field. They will showcase the cheetah's new abilities at the DARPA Robotics Challenge in June.

Read more at MIT

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