These 'Mini Cheetah' robots can do backflips and play soccer
Published Saturday, November 9, 2019 4:46PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, November 10, 2019 12:26PM EST
TORONTO -- A parade of tiny, acrobatic robots took over a university courtyard in Cambridge, Mass., this week to play a game of soccer and show off their backflips.
The completion of nine new “Mini Cheetah” robots was celebrated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Killian Court. Mechanical engineers with MIT’s Biometric Robotics Laboratory took the robots out into the fall weather to do a test run -- and filmed the process.
The video, which shows the headless robots frolicking in the leaves and playing soccer, had over 100,000 views on Youtube as of Saturday.
In the video, onlookers can be heard laughing as two of the robots seem to get in a tussle over the soccer ball. One of the robots is flipped over onto its back, collapsing on the ground with its spindly legs tucked into its chest. But when one of the robots rushes into the fallen robot again, it ends up slipping and falling down itself, allowing the first robot to get up successfully and charge away with the soccer ball.
Of course, none of the robots are actually making the decision to fight each other for a ball; they are being remote-controlled off screen by members of the lab.
The Mini Cheetahs are a smaller, more agile version of the Cheetah robotic line, the first model of which came out in 2014. Ben Katz designed the Mini Cheetah robot, and they were programmed by Jared Di Carlo, according to Professor Sangbae Kim, the director of the Biometric Robotics Laboratory.
Kim told Storyful that the robots were built for “research collaboration with other laboratories.”
As the video continues, the researchers come into view, holding remote controls, and the robots’ outing starts looking like an exercise video: all but one of the robots form a neat line, and follow the actions of the lead robot in front of them as it twists and turns, showing off all the ways the mini cheetah can move.
Later, the robots perform synchronized backflips in a line, then in a circle, then from underneath piles of leaves.
A press release about the Mini Cheetahs on MIT’s website describes them as “the first-four-legged robot to do a backflip.”
The robot can apparently move over uneven terrain “twice as fast as an average person’s walking speed,” and are each run by 12 motors.
With files from Storyful