Headless cat robot could be future of search-and-rescue missions

An article I wrote for Electronic Products.

The cheetah-cub robot is fast, agile, and on its way to becoming a life-saving machine in times of disaster

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland have created a swift, cat-like robot that could be the prototype for fleet-footed search-and-rescue robots.  With its flexible, lightweight structure, the small robot, called the cheetah-cub robot, mimics feline morphology.

Cheetah-cub robot
The cheetah-cub robot. Image via popsci.com.

Modeled off of the feline leg, each of the robot’s four limbs has three segments in the same proportions as that of a housecat. Even though the robot is headless, that’s not the only thing separating it from the cute and cuddly. With springs in place of a cat’s tendons and small actuators replacing the animal’s muscles in order to convert energy into movement, this 2.2-Ib machine isn’t your typical tabby.

Reaching speeds of up to 3.1 MPH, the cat can travel seven times the length of its body each second. This actually makes it much slower than the average housecat, which can run about 29 body lengths per second, but so far the cheetah-cub robot lives up to its name, as it’s the quickest of all robots its size.

Though it’s still in its experimental stages, the long-term goal of the cheetah-cub robot is to be able to develop fast, ground-gripping machines for use in exploration, especially for search and rescue in natural disaster situations. Although not as agile as a real cat, this robot exhibits excellent auto-stabilization characteristics while running at full speed through many different obstacles. Compared to other robots, the cheetah-cub is light, compact, robust, and can be assembled from inexpensive, available materials.

Check out its cat-like movements in the video below.

 

What do you think of the fleet-footed cheetah-cub robot? Let us know — leave a comment below.

Story via csmonitor.com

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