Boston Dynamics has just updated its YouTube channel with some new videos. One of them is an update on Atlas. Another is an update on LS3. And the third is this: WildCat, a totally new quadruped robot based on Cheetah, and out of nowhere, there's this video of it bounding and galloping around outdoors, untethered, at up to 25 km/h (16 mph). Whoa.
Here's the video caption:
WildCat is a four-legged robot being developed to run fast on all types of terrain. So far WildCat has run at about 16 mph on flat terrain using bounding and galloping gaits. The video shows WildCat's best performance so far. WildCat is being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA's M3 program.
This video was only just posted (perhaps half an hour ago), and the Boston Dynamics website doesn't seem to have any additional information about the robot just yet.
While tonight's unveiling was somewhat of a surprise, we have been expecting this platform to show up at some point. A little over a year ago, when Boston Dynamics had Cheetah sprinting at over 45 km/h (28 mph), we learned that an untethered version called WildCat capable of running outdoors was in the works, and this is the concept image for that robot from September 2012:
That looks pretty close to the actual robot, doesn't it?
WildCat's current top speed of 25 km/h is significantly slower than Cheetah's 45 km/h, but we can only speculate as to whether that's a limitation imposed by the on-board power, the gait, or simply the fact that WildCat is (as far as we know) a newish robot that probably has a lot of refinement in its future. We also don't know how well WildCat might perform outside of a parking lot, or whether it's capable of the same sort of sensor-based obstacle avoidance as LS3 is.
Hopefully, we'll get more info on WildCat from Boston Dynamics in the next day or two, and we'll update this post as soon as we can.
[ Boston Dynamics ]
Evan Ackerman is the senior writer for IEEE Spectrum’s award-winning robotics blog, Automaton. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and emerging technology, covering conferences and events on every single continent except Africa, Antarctica, Australia, and South America (although he remains optimistic). In addition to Spectrum, Evan’s work has appeared in a variety of other online publications including Gizmodo and Slate, and you may have heard him on NPR’s Science Friday or the BBC World Service if you were listening at just the right time. Evan has an undergraduate degree in Martian geology, which he almost never gets to use, and still wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. In his spare time, he enjoys scuba diving, rehabilitating injured raptors, and playing bagpipes excellently.