News & Opinion | July 5, 2018 12:15 pm

New Cheetah Robot Can Gallop, Climb Stairs, and Avoid Obstacles

MIT invention uses "blind locomotion" to move and could be used to explore disaster zones.

robot
Cheetah 3 robot from MIT. (YouTube)

MIT’s Cheetah 3 robot can not only leap and gallop across rough terrain, it can also climb a staircase that is covered with debris and recover its balance when it is suddenly hit or pulled. The 90-pound robot, essentially the size of a full-grown Labrador, is designed to do all of this without relying on cameras or external sensors. Instead, it “feels” its way around in a way that engineers describe as “blind locomotion,” reports MIT News, basically the same as how you would make your way around a pitch-black room.

“There are many unexpected behaviors the robot should be able to handle without relying too much on vision,” says the robot’s designer, Sangbae Kim, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, according to MIT News. “Vision can be noisy, slightly inaccurate, and sometimes not available, and if you rely too much on vision, your robot has to be very accurate in position and eventually will be slow. So we want the robot to rely more on tactile information. That way, it can handle unexpected obstacles while moving fast.”