WildCat is a four-legged robot being developed to run fast on all types of terrain. So far WildCat has run at about 16 mph on flat terrain using bounding and galloping gaits. The video shows WildCat’s best performance so far. WildCat is being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA’s M3 program.
Boston Dynamics is funded by the DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program. They first developed a prototype called Cheetah that broke all speed records for legged robots last year. Cheetah was reached 29 mph (46 km/h), but it was tethered to an external power source and had the benefit of running on a smooth treadmill while being partially balanced by a boom arm.
The eventual goal is to produce a four-legged robot that can run at speeds of up to 50 mph, on “all types of terrain.” While it’s fun to think of WildCat robots chasing down enemy combatants on the battlefield, the main purpose of the M3 (Maximum Mobility and Manipulation) program is simply to investigate how we can create robots that are much more fluid and flexible than they currently are. It would be naive to think that some version of Cheetah/WildCat won’t eventually be used in battle, though. Perhaps to run supplies to the frontline, or perhaps for more aggressive acts, such as a suicidal robotic bomb that runs into the enemy line and explodes.
Boston Dynamics and DARPA now have a complete family of robots:
A human (Atlas)
Mule – Ox (LS3).
The US military might one day field a completely robotic army, with Atlas firing the weapons, BigDog acting as the pack mule, and WildCat providing rapid, highly maneuverable support and flanking. Plus they will a variety of air drones. They will have drone carriers able to lift cars and trucks.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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