Defense Department Creates Robot That Outruns Olympian Usain Bolt

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Don’t blink. A robot created by the Department of Defense can now run faster than Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt.

The Cheetah robot – developed by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency – broke its own land speed record of 18 mph Wednesday by going 28.3 mph in a 20-meter split.

Bolt, who set the world record in the 100 meters with a 9.58 run in 2009, reached a peak speed of 27.78 mph during a 20-meter split in the World Athletics Championship.

The video posted by DARPA on its website shows the Cheetah robot hitting the new “world-record” mark before losing its footing on the treadmill.

The Cheetah robot, which is being developed and tested by Boston Dynamics, is looking to move from the treadmill to natural terrain next year in an effort for researchers can monitor its progress and refine algorithms.

“Our real goal is to create a robot that moves freely outdoors while it runs fast,” Dr. Alfred Rizzi, technical lead on the Cheetah project, told Wired magazine. “We are building an outdoor version that we call WildCat, that should be ready for testing early next year.”

DARPA states on its website that it hopes to use the Cheetah robot in emergency responses, humanitarian missions and other defense missions.

“What DARPA is doing with its robotics programs is attempting to understand and engineer into robots certain core capabilities that living organisms have refined over millennia of evolution: efficient locomotion, manipulation of objects and adaptability to environments,” Gill Pratt, DARPA program manager, said in a press release. “Our Cheetah bot borrows ideas from nature’s design to inform stride patterns, flexing and unflexing of parts like the back, placement of limbs and stability. What we gain through Cheetah and related research efforts are technological building blocks that create possibilities for a whole range of robots suited to future Department of Defense missions.”

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