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This article was published on May 29, 2015

This robot detects obstacles and jumps them like a cheetah

Amber Leigh Turner
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Amber Leigh Turner

Owner and Creative Director of January Creative

Owner and Creative Director of January Creative in Nashville, Tennessee, Amber has been a self-employed graphic and web designer for over ei Owner and Creative Director of January Creative in Nashville, Tennessee, Amber has been a self-employed graphic and web designer for over eight years, starting early in her collegiate career. Amber has a unique passion for not only all things design, but all things business as well. Freelancing as a student gave Amber an opportunity to write a student freelancing book, appropriately named Students Freelancing 101: A Start to Finish Course to Becoming a Student Freelancing, to help other students who want to start freelancing. Follow her on Twitter. Email her at

Robots are becoming more and more sophisticated, and now can mimic the movements of animals.

Researchers and developers at MIT have developed a robot that acts like a cheetah. Not only does it look somewhat like a cheetah and run like a cheetah, it can also now jump over obstacles in its path like a cheetah. This means they have successfully developed the first four-legged robot that can do this autonomously.

Their robotic cheetah can currently run an average of 5 mph and jump obstacles up to 18 inches tall. The researchers have developed and use three different algorithms to allow the robot to scan, detect, and calculate its jumps while in motion.

The robot scans the ground in front of it while running and detects obstacles as it comes in its path. When it finds an obstacle, it will scan and calculate the distance it is away and how tall it is and will recalculate its own path in order to successfully jump and clear the obstacle. This happens very quickly – 100 milliseconds according to the researchers.

The researchers at MIT have gone into more detail in this video:

The main challenges in building the robot included keeping its balance, and perfecting the after-jump landing. The robot still needs fine-tuning, though. Researchers have done rigorous testing, but found that the shorter amount of time the robot has to adjust to obstacles, the greater chance it has at not clearing it properly.

Their testing showed that on a 12-foot treadmill with the robot tethered in one place, it cleared about 70 percent of the obstacles with no issue. When allowing the robot to run free on an indoor track, the percentage was much higher, at 90 percent, as the obstacles were already in place because it had a bit more time to use its built in algorithms to calculate the jump and complete it.

Currently, they are looking to test the cheetah in different terrains, such as in grass fields.

Even though it still has a way to go, this is still really awesome to watch.

➤ MIT cheetah robot lands the running jump [MIT]

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