MIT Builds Robot to Save Human Life in Hostile Environment

By CIOReview | Wednesday, December 10, 2014

FREMONT, CA: Engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a robot which is inspired by the world's fastest animal with balance and instincts, ‘Cheetah’. The intent is to use the robot in military operation in hostile environment for rescue missions, as reported by Russia Today News.

The robot cheetah runs with maximum speed of 10mph, jumps 16 inch higher above the ground and gallops for at least 15 minutes. The robot has four agile legs attached that lead to its swift movement. It runs on 12 lightweight motors supplied with electric power from batteries.

Kiran Moodley from The Independent News reports that the robot cheetah works on the algorithm that calculates the amount of force each leg should exert while maneuvering. The internal computer moves the data from sensors and then gives commands to the motor. The equation helps robot to balance and maintain its forward momentum.

“When the robot is running, at every step, we calculate the appropriate amount of the force to the legs so that the robot can balance itself,” says Hae-Won Park, Research Scientist, MIT.
“This is kind of a Ferrari in the robotics world, like, we have to put all the expensive components and make it really that instinctive,” says Sangbae Kim, Professor, MIT. “That's the only way to get that speed.”

The design of the robot’s light and robust leg structure for high speed running is based on Biotensegrity structure of the body where bones and tendons of biological system are in synergetic arrangement. The prototype replicates the real world applications including the design of revolutionary prosthetics, wearable technologies, all-terrain wheelchairs and vehicles for traversing efficiently in rough surface.

Professor Kim hopes that in few years, the 70 pound weighted robot cheetah can be used in search and rescue operations in hazardous or hostile environments where human can’t be sent.

According to Rodrique Ngowi from Associated Press News, MIT engineers have been working on this robot for five years that involves designing, testing, fine-tuning and patience during test runs when robot broke dozen of legs manufactured by 3D printer and reinforced with Kevlar strips and carbon fiber.

The robot is now equipped with off-the-shelf components such as an Xbox controller for maneuvering the robot and wireless Internet communications for sending commands to fellow robot cheetah. Each leg is powered by three motors to generate powerful forces while running and jumping.

“In the next 10 years, our goal is we are trying to make this robot to save a life,” adds Professor Kim.