Four-legged blind robot
Robot Cheetah 3. © MIT Biomimetics Robotics Lab.
There’s competition for Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini…Today, MIT presented the Cheetah 3, a 40kg, four-legged robot similar to SpotMini. The major difference between the two robots is that the Cheetah 3 has no cameras to steer itself; it’s blind. It doesn’t even have environmental sensors, something that’s pretty much standard among its contemporaries. That said, it can still take care of itself quite well, thank you very much – it can climb stairs and hop onto a table. Its secret is a group of sensors that can detect contacts. Powerful algorithms are used to give the bot a way to map out surfaces as well as obstacles. You could, in a sense, call it a “sensory” kind of robot. The Cheetah 3 was mainly designed to explore hostile environments that are hard or impossible for humans to access. If you wonder about the usefulness of a sightless robot, think of the sighted robot that that was sent into Fukushima’s central reactor in 2017: it had to abort its mission after only two hours because its camera was roasted by radiation of 650 Sv/h.