MIT’s Latest Dog-Like Robot Can Do Backflips on Control


They Could already open Doorways, traverse steep flights of stairs, run at high speed and unload your Own Dishwasher.

Now, for the first time , a four-legged robot has performed a physical feat that evades all but the very athletic among us: a backflip.

The acrobatics arrive courtesy of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where scientists have unveiled a elastic, 20-pound robot that is also capable of walking either right-side up or upside down.

The vaguely canine-like machine – dubbed”Mini Cheetah” – is also able to trot over irregular terrain roughly twice as fast as an average person’s walking pace, researchers say.

Reached by email, Benjamin Katz, a specialized associate at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering who helped design the robot,” wrote that the backflip isn’t”inherently helpful,” but provides researchers a way to estimate the machine’s abilities.

“It’s also a good stress-test of the hardware,” he explained. “It involves very large torque, power, and acceleration capability, and has a high-speed impact at the end, all of which are extremely harsh on the robot’s mechanical components”

Mini Cheetah is powered by 12 electrical motors that allow the system to bend and swing its legs. Each of the robot four legs is powered by three individual motors that engineers included to increase the system’s range of motion and help it change direction and make”high-force impacts” without breaking its limbs, researchers say. As a movie released by MIT demonstrates, the robot was programmed to quickly recover from an unexpected force, such as a kick to the side.

Having a generous selection of motion and being able to adapt to different surfaces will probably be crucial elements for budding robots that are deployed by humans sooner or later, researchers say.

“Legged robots will have many different uses where human or animallike mobility is necessary (scaling over stairs, rocks, etc.) but it may be unsafe to send an individual: search and rescue, inspection, surveillance and so forth,” Katz wrote.

Mini Cheetah isn’t the first robot to execute a backflip. Atlas – the humanoid star of Boston Dynamics’ viral robot movies – hasn’t only been performing backflips, but doing this after a series of complicated box jumps that the machine surmounts effortlessly.

In the last few decades, the same firm has produced a run of four-legged robots – with titles like Spot, Wildcat and BigDog – which may open doors, carry heavy loads and operate nearly 20 mph.

This past year, Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert told an audience in Germany his team is analyzing the business’s awkward, four-legged, doglike robot, SpotMini, to be used in a number of industries, including security, delivery, construction and home assistance. The company states the 66-pound machine is two feet 9 inches tall and will be the quietest of the company’s robots. It runs on power, has 17 joints and will go for 90 minutes on a single charge.

MIT researchers have their own strategies for their newest four-legged creation.

“That’s the best way to speed up research.”


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