As we watched this Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) video of a headless robot "cheetah" running at 28.3 MPH, the first thing we thought of was Steve Austin, the "Six Million Dollar Man," and the theme music to the show. Of course, Austin could run as fast as 90 MPH.
Still, this was an impressive feat by the cyborg. The Cheetah, as it has been dubbed, is modeled after the world's fastest mammal. Of course, the real cheetah can run as fast as 70 MPH.
That said, the Cheetah outruns the fastest human runner ever recorded, Usain Bolt, who reached a top speed of 27.78 MPH in 2009 - sort of. Speaking to PC Magazine on Friday, DARPA admitted that the treadmill that the Cheetah ran on provided the equivalent of a 28.3 MPH tail wind.
The Cheetah was developed by Boston Dynamics, the same company that earlier created a stair-climbing robot.
DARPA is developing these robots to meet the challenge of difficult terrain. DARPA said, "The most difficult terrain demands the use of legs, as legs can step over both high obstacles and deep ditches. But coordinating the swing and lift of mechanical legs is more difficult than making wheels turn or tracks roll, and previous legged robots have been slow compared to wheeled or tracked ones."
Watch an embedded video of DARPA's robotic version of Steve Austin.