The Cheetah robot has an articulated back that flexes back and forth on each step, 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. The next generation Cheetah robot, WildCat, is designed to operate untethered. WildCat recently entered initial testing and is scheduled for outdoor field testing later in 2013.
Cheetah’s development is funded by DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation program. including Dr. Gill Pratt, Program Manager and Boston Dynamics, Dr. Marc Raibert, Project Manager. Robots hold great promise for improving both the safety and productivity of human beings. But, compared to humans present day robots have poor mobility. The goal of the Cheetah prototype, which recently broke the speed record for legged robots, is to develop and test technologies that will enable future robots to assist humans in missions (e.g. scouting, search and rescue) where the robot must travel across rough terrain at high speed with high energetic efficiency.