Researchers in Switzerland have created a robot that moves like a housecat and can run faster than all other robots its size.
Dubbed the "cheetah-cub robot," scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne modeled it after a common housecat, with strings replacing the tendons in its legs. Flexible knees allow it to bound over steps and other small obstacles.
The robot can run at speeds of up to 3.1 miles per hour. Each second, it can travel seven times the length of its body, and it's the fastest four-legged robot ever created that weighs less than 65 pounds. By comparison, the common housecat can travel about 29 body lengths per second.
"It has applications in rough terrain, it can climb through the mountains, which is harder for a machine with wheels," Alexander Sprowitz, one of the researchers, explains in a video about the robot. Sprowitz believes the robot might be useful for search and rescue missions in areas with rocky terrain.
The robot still has a bit of growing up to do if it wants to perform like a cheetah, though. In 2012, DARPA created a robot that is capable of running at speeds of 28 miles per hour, faster than track star Usain Bolt. That robot, however, ran on a treadmill and still requires a device to help it center itself. DARPA plans on testing the robot in free-running situations in the future.