When I woke up this morning, the first thought I had was this: why aren’t there more experimental, headless cat robots out there?
Well, you can imagine how excited I was when I found the above video, showcasing EPFL’s “cheetah-cub robot,” which accurately mimics feline morphology. This small, lightweight robot is designed to move just like a cat, and I think it’s mostly convincing.
Designed by École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s Biorobotics Laboratory, the robot is a quadruped, much like Big Dog and DARPA’s larger cheetah robot. It’s based on the common house cat, and special care was given to the stability of its legs — it’s obviously not as stable as an actual cat, but it can run about seven times its body length in one second.
“The machine’s strengths all reside in the design of its legs. The researchers developed a new model with this robot, one that is based on the meticulous observation and faithful reproduction of the feline leg. The number of segments – three on each leg – and their proportions are the same as they are on a cat. Springs are used to reproduce tendons, and actuators – small motors that convert energy into movement – are used to replace the muscles.”
So, what’s the point? That’s always the question, right? There’s hope that such a robot may assist in search-and-rescue missions, and perhaps even help us with exploration. Its small size and agility may allow it to quickly reach places humans cannot, which would obviously be a great asset in certain situations.
Until the robot apocalypse, of course, when we’ll all be trying to outrun these little headless monsters.