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Video: Boston Dynamics' new quadruped Wildcat tears up the tarmac

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October 4, 2013

Unlike Cheetah, WildCat has to balance itself without the aid of a stabilizing boom arm an...

Unlike Cheetah, WildCat has to balance itself without the aid of a stabilizing boom arm and carries its own power source

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Boston Dynamics, the company behind DARPA's most advanced legged robots such as PETMAN, BigDog, and Atlas, has unveiled the free-roaming version of their sprinting robot Cheetah. The new robot is called WildCat, and it's already galloping at speeds up to 16 mph (25.7 km/h) on flat ground.

Boston Dynamics is participating in DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program, which seeks to build robot systems that can move quickly in natural environments. To that end, it first developed a prototype called Cheetah that broke all speed records for legged robots last year. Cheetah was capable or reaching 28 mph (45 km/h), but it was tethered to an external power source and had the benefit of running on a smooth treadmill while being partially balanced by a boom arm. At the time, Boston Dynamics said it was working towards a free-running version of the robot, but it wasn't until a few hours ago that they finally blew the lid on it.

WildCat not only gallops, but can bound and turn circles as well. And, when it loses its footing during the demonstration and nearly flips over, it comes to rest with all four feet on the ground not much worse for wear. Being that this is still fairly early in its development, the quadruped's powerful motors don't so much purr as scream, but as we've seen with Boston Dynamics' other robots they can dampen the noise later. For now, its work is focused on getting the robot up to speed.

Currently Boston Dynamics has yet to update its website with WildCat's technical details, but we'll keep you updated as they roll in. For now, enjoy the somewhat terrifying glimpse into the future in the following video:

The LS3 is also making progress

The company also shared a new video of its LS3 quadruped, or Legged Squad Support System, romping through the hills of Twentynine Palms, California. Unlike the WildCat, the LS3 doesn't move quite as fast, but that's because it can carry 400 lbs (181 kg) of gear. You can see that robot following a human leader up a steep, rock-strewn hill and plowing its way through a snowbank in the new video below.

Sources: Boston Dynamics, DARPA

About the Author
Jason Falconer Jason is a freelance writer based in central Canada with a background in computer graphics. He has written about hundreds of humanoid robots on his website Plastic Pals and is an avid gamer with an unsightly collection of retro consoles, cartridges, and controllers.   All articles by Jason Falconer
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12 Comments

Terrible...

Please attach an Akrapovic or a Yoshimura and then it'll run a lot better :)

Τριαντάφυλλος Καραγιάννης
5th October, 2013 @ 01:35 am PDT

Scary!!!

Leonard Foster Jr
6th October, 2013 @ 04:52 pm PDT

In video 1, I like the WildCat's transition from looking really goofy while bobbing around at first, to scary life like galloping at speed.

One thing. Bigdog and the WildCat have different knee orientations on their hind legs.

In ultimately combining the two into the ultimate walking/running animal, what leg configuration will work best.

Nairda
6th October, 2013 @ 05:09 pm PDT

Wow just wow

David R Aldridge
6th October, 2013 @ 08:18 pm PDT

They look sort of cute and creepy at the same time... Impressive though. Loved it when it was gently following its master on the hillside :-)

Rokdun Johnson
7th October, 2013 @ 02:22 am PDT

Just the thing for silently creeping up on the enemy!

Mel Tisdale
7th October, 2013 @ 06:39 am PDT

Ah yes the smell of 2 stroke in the morning, But does it float ?

And where does one acquire the funding for projects like this, I'm ready !

Jay Finke
7th October, 2013 @ 09:32 am PDT

Now all it needs is a saddle

Forward Thinker
7th October, 2013 @ 10:28 am PDT

it looked like it was running backwards, considering how the legs are positioned

MG127
7th October, 2013 @ 10:42 am PDT

Wonderful "animal"! Hope you don't have to put it down when it breaks a leg!

Dieter
7th October, 2013 @ 11:01 am PDT

Wow! NOW you're getting somewhere! I always look forward to the latest quadraped coming out of Boston Dynamics. Simply amazing. Ultimately these will be electric and essentially silent.

warren52nz
7th October, 2013 @ 01:31 pm PDT

I think this is the coolest thing I've seen in decades! I just watched a few videos of this and the Cheetah on youtube. The Wildcat moves better than the Cheetah though the Cheetah is faster right now. I can't wait to see what these become in 5-10 or 20 years.

darklight_413
7th October, 2013 @ 09:08 pm PDT
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