MIT’s Biomimetics robotics lab recently released yet another video of its Mini Cheetah robots playing soccer on the field. Watching the tiny four-legged robots running through the field, chasing the ball, performing back flips was surely a treat to the eyes. These quadrupedal robots are springy and light in weight, weighting around just 20 pounds. They are capable of bending and swinging its legs wide enabling it to walk either right-side up or upside down supported by its 3 motor-powered legs.
MIT’s mini Cheetah had already made headlines with its release earlier this year in March and presented the design at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation(ICRA), in May.
The mini cheetah is designed with modularity in mind with high torque and low-inertia design. Each of the robot’s legs is powered by three identical, low-cost electric motors to give huge range of motion, that can easily be swapped out for a new one incase of a limb or motor breaks and each motor is about the size of the mason jar lid. The most impressive ability of the mini cheetah is that it can perform a 360-degree backflip from a standing position.
Mini Cheetah is smart enough to perform a preprogrammed crouch or elbow-swing maneuver to right itself on all fours when it receives a signal to restart, after determining its orientation.
Katz, who worked on the robot in the lab of Sangbae Kim, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, says, “A big part of why we built this robot is that it makes it so easy to experiment and just try crazy things, because the robot is super robust and doesn’t break easily, and if it does break, it’s easy and not very expensive to fix,”
Kim says loaning mini cheetahs out to other research groups gives engineers an opportunity to test out novel algorithms and maneuvers on a highly dynamic robot, that they might not otherwise have access to.
Researchers claim the mini cheetah is designed to be “virtually indestructible,” recovering with little damage, even if a backflip ends in a spill.