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The general goal of our lab is to understand the
locomotion aspect of animals. Recently we are focusing
on quadrupeds, or four-legged animals and we try to
understand how they efficiently run in the field and nature
so that we can take that inspiration and then use it
in our engineering world. So for example we can create
prosthetic legs out of that technology and you could even
make new transportation replacing cars so that you
don't need the road in our world.
The cheetah is the fastest four-legged animal in the world
and we would like to make out robot run fast like a
cheetah.
When we started with our robot, we started to look at
cheetahs' motion and applied its principles to our
mechanical version of a cheetah.
Currently our robot cheetah can run up to 10 mph and
jump over a 33 cm high obstacle. So previously, most
legged robots are powered by internal combustion
engines and then hydraulic transmissions, and those are
very noisy and very inefficient. But people believe that
internal combustion engines and hydraulics are the only
way to make a legged robot run and support itself.
People believe that electric motors are not powerful
enough, so this is the first time we show that an
electrically powered robot can run and jump over
a foot high obstacle. In order to build a dynamic robot like
Cheetah we had to develop everything on the robot
including motors, control system and control algorithms.
Because previous robotic technology is focused on
controlling static motion over the robot.
I think this is a really exciting future where robots can be
quiet and efficient and also powerful and then we might
exceed the muscles' performance in the future.