A robotic cheetah developed by the US military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has run 18 miles per hour on a lab treadmill, breaking the speed record for legged robots, the agency reported on Monday.
The previous land speed record by a robot was 13.1 mph, InnovationNewsDaily reported.
"The robot's movements are patterned after those of fast-running animals in nature," DARPA said in a statement. "The robot increases its stride and running speed by flexing and un-flexing its back on each step, much as an actual cheetah does."
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The robot was created by DARPA, the Pentagon's main research facility, in conjunction with Boston Dynamics in Waltham, Massachusetts as part of DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program, Agence France Presse reported. The program's goal is to create advanced robotic technology that could one day be used by the US military to dispose of roadside bombs and navigate other battlefield perils, according to the AFP.
"We plan to get off the treadmill and into the field as soon as possible," said Alfred Rizzi, the firm's chief robotics scientist, according to BBC News. "We really want to understand what is possible for fast-moving robots."
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The robot, which has been dubbed "Cheetah," is powered by an off-board hydraulic pump, the BBC reported. However, researchers said a fully free-running prototype will be developed later this year.
The M3 project was commissioned in February 2011 and will run for four years, BBC reported.
Boston Dynamics has experience with robotic animals: it is the company responsible for "BigDog," a four-legged, headless "LS3" robotic mule designed to haul 400 pounds of gear for human soldiers on a 20-mile trek without refueling, InnovationNewsDaily reported.
Real-life cheetahs, however, beat the robot versions by a long shot: the world's fastest land animal can reach speeds of 70 mph, InnovationDailyNews reported.
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