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Wildcat Robot: A free-running Quadruped Robot

Last month DARPA, the United States Department of Defense agency, asked Boston Dynamics to alter their LS3 robot into a bulletproof unit, but there doesn’t seem to be any definite military plan for their canine inspired Wildcat.

Last year DARPA released a video of a robot that was designed to replicate the speed of a cheetah. The machine was able to reach speeds of 30mph and was commissioned by the government agency to “chase and evade”, a mandate that created more than a little fear in most upstanding Americans, let alone the rest of us. The cheetah’s speed was impressive but it was achieved with the aid of electronic tethers that restricted its movement so it was purely a prototype. Today Boston Dynamics has released the follow up and given it the fearsome name – Wildcat.

The Boston Dynamics Wildcat can only reach speeds of 16mph, but it’s not restricted by power cables. As with any four-legged animal, it reaches these speeds under its own power and uses both galloping and bounding to move around at speed. It’s main advantage over other motorised machines with wheels or treads is its ability to cross uneven ground. It can also recover from any stumbling or falling without too many problems which could make “chase and evade” a very real prospect for this machine.

At the moment WildCat remains a work in progress but as it’s funded by DARPA through its M3 program, it will end up getting faster, more reliable and more stable. The Wildcat’s purpose is not yet known but the chances are that it won’t be sold as a motorised pet because government money is making it possible. Perhaps it will be used to carry weapons in a war zone as DARPA has revealed that the project’s aim is to create a machine for “emergency response, firefighting, advanced agriculture and vehicular travel.”

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