Life
Video of robot landing running jump has people feeling uneasy about relationship with tech
It's creepy but cool. But it's also really creepy.
Laura Shallcross
09.09.21

Have you ever seen a cheetah jump?

Probably not in real life, but you’ve likely seen it on TV.

A cheetah can jump as far as 35 to 45 feet.

That’s pretty ridiculous when you think about just how far that is.

Sammy Wong/ Unsplash
Source:
Sammy Wong/ Unsplash

A jumping cheetah is impressive, but this video takes it one step further.

It’s not every day that you get to see a jumping cheetah robot.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube

The robot was built by MIT researchers several years ago, and they’ve been testing its capabilities since then.

Last year, researchers proved that the robot could run untethered, and could somehow do this “blind”, without using cameras or other systems to provide “vision”.

The science behind the cheetah robot’s ability to run and jump is pretty extraordinary.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube

According to an MIT News page, the robot can “see” by using a visual system called a LIDAR. This system maps terrain using reflections from a laser.

It sounds complicated, and that’s because it is. The MIT research team had to plan out the robot’s path using a three-part algorithm, which would ultimately give the robot complete autonomous control.

Confused? So are we. Let’s take a break to marvel at the jump itself, no science involved.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube

In the now-viral YouTube video, the cheetah robot can be seen running on a giant treadmill and jumping over obstacles of various sizes.

The robot moves like an animal, which is obviously the point, but slightly creepy nevertheless.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube

Okay, maybe it’s more like an animal with arthritis but hey, it can still jump.

The hurdles get progressively bigger and bigger, but the robot cheetah handles them like a pro. So much so that the researchers decide it’s time to get rid of its safety harness.

Free of the harness, the cheetah seems even more capable. It clears three hurdles in a row, not even looking phased by the exertion.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube

If you don’t like robots, this video might make you feel a bit weird.

But 20+ million people decided it was an interesting enough concept to watch, and the comments section is pretty amusing.

One person wrote:

“Can’t wait for this thing to chase after my family for not paying taxes.”

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube

Someone felt similarly, writing:

“I have been preparing for zombies, not robot cheetahs.”

We all know the “what if robots took over the world” narrative, but let’s see this for what it is: a pretty cool invention that’s doing nothing scarier than jumping over things.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s go back to the science.

Apparently, the reason why the robot cheetah can clear the hurdles so cleanly is because it has been programmed to detect an obstacle and estimate its size and distance.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/ YouTube

The cheetah recognizes the ground as a straight line. Anything above the ground is a deviation from the line, and the cheetah can estimate the height of the hurdle and the distance from itself.

If you haven’t seen the cheetah robot in action yet, it’s really something to behold.

You can check it out in the video below!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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By Laura Shallcross
hi@sbly.com
Laura Shallcross is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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