Watch MIT's Cheetah 3 robot navigate complex environments without cameras

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Move over Boston Dynamics, there’s a new contender in the race for robotic supremacy. MIT researchers this week revealed that their Cheetah 3 robot is now able to climb a staircase littered with debris, leap and gallop across rough terrain and quickly recover its balance when shoved or pulled.

Not impressed, you say? Consider this – Cheetah 3 accomplishes all of this and more while essentially blind.

The 90-pound mechanical nightmare is roughly the size of a full-grown Labrador and is designed to navigate its way through the world without the aid of cameras or external environmental sensors. Instead, it “feels” its way through its surroundings, much like a person making their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night in the dark.

Sangbae Kim, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT that designed the robot, said vision can be noisy, slightly inaccurate and sometimes not available.

“If you rely too much on vision, your robot has to be very accurate in position and eventually will be slow. So we want the robot to rely more on tactile information. That way, it can handle unexpected obstacles while moving fast.”

Kim hopes that within the next few years, the robot will be able to carry out tasks that are too dangerous or inaccessible for humans to attempt. “Dangerous, dirty, and difficult work can be done much more safely through remotely controlled robots,” he said.

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VitalyT

Russ-Puss
All their creations have one thing in common - they are all creepy as hell.

Could that be the real reason why Google dumped them?
 
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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Wait until they have good video/audio and let's have them sneak into some of these private sessions of congress and see what they are REALLY doing!
 
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ShagnWagn

TS Guru
"the robot, said vision can be noisy, slightly inaccurate and sometimes not available"

Add 4000 pounds to it, and speed it up to 40+mph and have pedestrians try to cross the street in front of it. And there you have it. Just like self-wrecking cars.
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
Hilarity ensues at the two minute mark... that entertained me.

Until they can get these creeper bots to stop constantly moving their legs when in a stationary position they will always look like a cocaine-fueled fiend that is too clumsy to stand up straight. Honestly doesn't look any more impressive than the other bots we've seen.

And really how bad can vision be? Humans and animals have relied on it for its primary sense for ages. Sure there are some downsides and times where it won't be enough but I think abandoning such a basic and economical solution is a big mistake. There are also other sensor technologies that can aide when vision is lost or "too noisy".

Remotely controlled is probably best for any sort of rescue operations, but repetitive tasks such as warehouse operations could really benefit from this sort of tech.