In the Terminator universe there’s a big emphasis on the robots either looking like humans (with soft tissue, like a cyborg) or as big metallic tanks (mini-Metal Gears) or drones. But in the Transformers universe, robots come in all shapes and sizes, from a rat to a scorpion and even dinosaurs (in the Beast Wars animated series).
But if we’re not able to stop Judgement Day and Skynet achieving sentience (Google+ and Facebook are the likely candidates), one of the robots you’d have to look out for is shaped like a cheetah – and students at MIT and engineers at Boston Dynamics are working on them right now.
MIT Cheetah – 22km/h Top speed
Top speed: 22km per hour. Its currently only capable of running at high speeds with the aid of a mechanical arm that keeps it stable. The group has only just finished working on making it move in the same way as a real Cheetah, and it’s four times faster than the Honda Asimo.
MIT’s Cheetah achieves this by using a lightweight plastic and carbon fibre construction and uses electric motors for speed and efficiency, rather than the hydraulic arms Asimo uses. The Cheetah can run on a battery approximately 3kg in weight and, thanks to dynamos, can also recharge its own batteries through energy released in motion.
MIT says that they’re working on how to get the machine to change direction and that it’ll require a completely different set of motors. One thing’s for sure, if you see this thing barreling after you, run it over or kill it with fire.
Boston Dymamics Cheetah – 45.54km/h Top speed
But the MIT Cheetah isn’t the fastest out there. Boston Dynamic’s Cheetah, funded by DARPA, is faster than Usain Bolt with a top speed of 45.54km/h. It too has a balancing and directional problem and can only run aided by a support boom.
Unlike MIT’s version, the BD Cheetah gallops like a horse, instead of transitioning from a run, to a trot and then bounding like an actual cheetah. It will be field-tested with new directional motors later this year and is a prime candidate for use in warfare, because it could be modified to be remotely controlled.