New Raptor Robot Can Outrun Usain Bolt
By Lenny Pierce on June 2, 2014
No one on Earth can outrun the latest robot out of Korea.
We’ve all seen running robots that are designed after quadruped animals. Bots like the HyQ from the Italian Institute of Technology, as well as Boston Dynamics‘ BigDog, LS3, and WildCat, all run by mimicking the gaits of four-legged critters. But at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), researchers have just designed a robot that mimics the running style of a famous ancient biped — the velociraptor.
The robot is aptly named “Raptor,” and when put on a treadmill, it ran completely stable at 46 km/h (28.6 mph). Clever girl…
The basic components of the Raptor. Notice the elastic achilles tendon, a part that allows the leg to store energy from one step to the next. This is the same concept central to the leaping power of Festo’s BionicKangaroo.
The major stabilizer in the actual velociraptor’s gait was its tail, so the engineers at KAIST did the same with the Raptor. However, instead of building a lengthy tail stretching out straight behind the robot, the machine is stabilized by a spinning rod which whirls around the robot’s hip. This stabilizing system works well enough that the Raptor can gracefully step over blocks that researchers laid down in front of its path.
Some legged robots rely on multiple actuators to work, but the Raptor sprints along on just one motor per leg. Controlling the robot is pretty easy too. The Raptor runs on a simple computer program called a “running pattern generator” that controls its strides and speed. Of course, things would have to get a bit more complicated before the Raptor could be given more space to run. For now, the robot is confined to a treadmill and has a support beam directly above it which it needs to safely maintain its path.
Boston Dynamics’ “Cheetah” robot hit similarly incredible speeds to the Raptor two years ago. To give you some perspective, the Raptor’s 46 km/h is faster than the fastest man on Earth–Usain Bolt. When Bolt ran a 100-meter dash in 9.98 seconds, his top speed was estimated to be 43.45 km/h (27 mph).
Best of all, the Raptor gives serious hope to those of us with dreams of a robotic sequel to Jurassic Park.
HT: IEEE Spectrum
IMAGES: Raptor image published here with permission from Jongwon Park