What just happened? In what is no doubt a major step toward the creation of Terminator-style cyborgs that will hunt the human race to extinction, a bipedal machine called Cassie has just become the first robot to run five kilometres, a feat it managed in 53 minutes, on a single charge, and without a tether.

TechCrunch notes that Cassie is the basis of delivery bot Digit, created by Agility Robotics, a spin-off of Oregon State University. It started life as Cassie the Robot delivery ostrich back in 2017.

A team from the Dynamics Robotics Laboratory in OSU’s College of Engineering previously used a simulator to train Cassie to go up and down stairs without using LIDAR or a camera. Now, that same team has trained it to run using a deep reinforcement learning algorithm, which allowed the system to understand how to shift its weight while running to stay upright without a tether.

“Deep reinforcement learning is a powerful method in AI that opens up skills like running, skipping and walking up and down stairs,” said undergrad student Yesh Godse.

The 53 minutes and 3 seconds it took Cassie to complete the run included around 6.5 minutes of troubleshooting to address an overheated computer and after it took a turn too quickly that knocked the robot off its legs.

Cassie did have a human controller throughout the run, so we don’t need to start worrying about Black Mirror-like robots patrolling the wastelands of the earth just yet. OSU robotics professor and Agility Robotics co-founder Jonathan Hurst has a more optimistic view: “In the not very distant future, everyone will see and interact with robots in many places in their everyday lives, robots that work alongside us and improve our quality of life.”