DARPA's Cheetah Bolts Past the Competition

DARPA's Cheetah robot - already the fastest legged robot in history - just broke its own land speed record of 18 miles per hour (mph). Cheetah also surpassed another very fast mover: Usain Bolt. Bolt set the world speed record for a human in 2009 when he reached a peak speed of 27.78 mph for a 20-meter split during the 100-meter sprint. Cheetah was recently clocked at 28.3 mph for a 20-meter split. Though Cheetah had a slight advantage over Bolt, as it ran on a treadmill - the equivalent of a 28.3 mph tail wind - most of the power Cheetah used was to swing its legs fast enough, not to propel itself forward. The speedy bot is being developed and tested under DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program by Boston Dynamics, and the increase in speed is due to improved control algorithms and a more powerful pump.