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DARPA Designs New Robots After Cheetah And Pack Mule (Videos)

Biomimicry is almost a byword of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Indeed, if any group has discovered that 'nature does it better,' it's DARPA, and you have to admit the Agency is pretty adept at imitating it.  Here, are two of DARPA's latest robotic tributes to nature's designs: the Cheetah Bot and the Pack Mule Bot.

 

The Cheetah Robot

 

 Darpa's prototype Cheetah Robot: image via newswatch.nationalgeographic.comDarpa's prototype Cheetah Robot: image via newswatch.nationalgeographic.com

 

DARPA's Cheetah Robot was the fastest legged robot in history a few months ago at 18 mph on land  But it just beat its own record at a peak speed of 28.3 mph, even surpassing the fastest human, Usain Bolt, whose top speed for a 20-meter split was 28.3 mph during a 100 meter sprint.  Of course, the comparison is a bit unfair as the Cheetah Bot was on a treadmill....

 

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But the Cheetah Bot, whose namesake runs at about 60 mph, will be out there in the field on tougher terrains than a racing track as soon as all of its algorithms are perfected.  It will be part of DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) effort to help bring humanitarian and assistance to defense personnel in the field.

 

The Pack Mule Robot

 

 Cheetah bot: image via newswatch.nationalgeographic.comCheetah bot: image via newswatch.nationalgeographic.com

 

Now, think of how much faster militia could move if they didn't have to carry 40 or more pounds of gear on their backs. DARPA thought about that too and so created the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), better known as the Pack Mule Robot, to carry the heavy load that Marines and Soldiers now manage on their own.

Prototypes of the Pack Mule Bot were tested earlier this year, but the current prototypes have 'matured,' according to DARPA. Getting closer to their eventual capacity, they test more quietly, completing their trotting and jogging mobility runs....

 

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The bots are getting close to their desired capacity.  Look at how they manage on rough terrain. One day soon, it is hoped, these bots will be able to carry gear for a whole unit, follow the unit autonomously, and even interpret verbal and visual commands.

 

Sources: DARPA(1), DARPA(2) via National Geographic