Researchers have created a lightweight, energy-efficient, robotic cheetah that can replicate the movement of a real cheetah but consumes just 15 percent more energy than the live animal.

The robotic animal has been developed by researchers at the University of Twente and is currently in prototype stage. With a length of 30 cm and weight 2.5 kg, the prototype is four times smaller and twenty times lighter than a real cheetah.

Robotic cheetah makes efficient use of energy

Geert Folkertsma, the University of Twente’s researcher, who has developed the Robotic Cheetah says he wanted to design and develop a robot that could make efficient use of energy.

His team decided to mimic a real cheetah because of its ability to run smoothly and swiftly—two features that many walking robots lack. According to Folkertsma, their aim was not to reconstruct all the features of the animal but just to mimic its efficient way of running. Folkertsma also believes that knowledge of movement patterns of this animal can be applied to design robots that can walk in a more efficient and elegant manner.

While developing the robot, the researchers watched several videos of the real cheetahs to learn more about their movement. Then they used special software to analyze the flow of the animal and reached the conclusion that this fastest land animal extensively uses its backbone while moving.

Researchers also found that bending and extending of the backbone helps this animal in the running very quickly, triggering a huge leap, and move efficiently.

Robotic cheetah’s backbone helps it move efficiently

According to the developers of this robot, a significant difference between a robotic cheetah and other walking robots lies in the backbone, which helps the mechanical animal move much faster and in an elegant manner than other robots.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

Researchers believe the technology used to make the robotic animal can also be used to improve the performance of other walking robots. In robotic cheetah, springs do the same functions that vertebrae and the intervertebral discs do in a live animal. A live cheetah stores energy in its muscles, and in the same way, the springs fitted in the legs of the robot help in making the movement shifter.

Creators of this robot believe it can help in rehabilitating the faulty robots that were retired much earlier than expected. The technology used to create this robotic animal can also be used in advanced prosthetics or to assist humans in areas such as housekeeping or healthcare.

On 21st April, the robotic cheetah will be displayed at University of Twente’s campus, where its developers will defend the research.