THE MAD SCIENTISTS at the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have developed the world's fastest four-legged robot.
The speedy Cheetah robot can lope along at a brisk 18mph, making it a record breaker when it comes to robots. The previous robot land speed record set in 1989 was 13.1mph.
The agency said that more mobile robots will be able to "much more effectively assist warfighters across a greater range of missions".
The robot's movements are modelled on those of fast-running animals so it increases its stride and running speed by flexing and un-flexing its back on each gallop, much like a real cheetah.
Real cheetahs are much faster though, able to accelerate from zero to 60mph in under three seconds. The fastest land animal, a cheetah can briefly reach 75mph.
The scientists said that the current version of the Cheetah robot runs on a laboratory treadmill where it is powered by an off-board hydraulic pump and uses a boom-like device to keep it running in the centre of the treadmill. Testing of a free-running prototype is planned for later this year. µ