This robot has an articulated back that flexes back and forth on each step, thereby increasing its stride and running speed, much like the animal does. The current version of the Cheetah robot runs on a high-speed treadmill in the laboratory where it is powered by an off-board hydraulic pump and uses a boom-like device to keep it running in the center of the treadmill. Later this year we plan to start testing a free-running Cheetah that will operate more naturally in the field.
What would be a good use for a superfast running robot? SF fans might be concerned, thinking about the slamhound from William Gibson's 1986 novel Count Zero:
THEY sent A SLAMHOUND on Turner's trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair. It caught up with him on a street called Chandni Chauk and came scrambling for his rented BMW through a forest of bare brown legs and pedicab tires. Its core was a kilogram of recrystallized hexogene and flaked TNT.
Another science-fictional use of this device can be found in the 1992 novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Remember the Rat Thing?
The body is Rottweiler-sized, segmented into overlapping hard plates like those of a rhinoceros. The legs are long, curled way up to deliver power, like a cheetah's. It must be the tail that makes people refer to it as a Rat Thing, because that's the only ratlike part - incredibly long and flexible...
The body converges to a sharp nose. In the front it bends down sharply, and there is a black canopy, raked sharply like the windshield of a fighter plane. If the Rat Thing has eyes, this is where it looks out.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/6/2012)
Orion's 'Skip-to-M'Lou' Entry
'A lightning pilot possibly could land that tin toy without power and still walk away from it provided he had the skill to play Skip-to-M’Lou in and out of the atmosphere...'