We’ve never been much for slow technology. Imagine reading the headline “slowest robot in the world unveiled,” and surely yawns will follow. That’s why two new running robot designs were just released. The Outrunner and Raptor robots can run at 20mph or more, perfect for carrying weapons or stealing old ladies’ purses.
The first whizzing robot is Robotics Unlimited’s OutRunner. This robot has a unique running style, as its body stays in place while spokes with legs rotate on either side of it, giving it the ability to run quickly without compromising balance.
The OutRunner is one of the fastest remote-controlled robots in the world. The speed demon clocks in at 20mph on average, standalone, but it was once recorded at 45mph. In trials, the little robot showed its skills in running over grass, dirt, bumpy terrain and uphill without breaking a sweat. The secret is in the science.
OutRunner’s design was based on biology. The designers figured that the lower the center of mass, the better the balance – and it worked. OutRunner’s center of mass is below the axis of the spokes of its legs, enabling it to exhibit buoyancy and stability as it runs.
The supersonic electronic relies on a rechargeable battery for its boost and it can run for two hours on every charge. The robot’s legs store kinetic energy, so a lot of the energy required to make the bot speed down the runway comes from the laws of physics.
OutRunner comes in two models: a 1.5 foot tall, 3lb robot with six legs and a 2 foot tall, 12-legged monster that weighs 5 lbs and comes with an HD camera. The robot is remote-controlled and users can also track the bot’s performance using an app.
Robotics Unlimited missed the mark on its Kickstarter campaign, but we’re sure to see these guys again. While OutRunner is a speed demon, it isn’t the fastest bot in town. The Raptor is even giving Cheetah quite a scare.
Scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology were also inspired by nature to create one of the fastest robots in the industry. The Raptor robot was designed to mimic the speed, agility and balance of the velociraptor dinosaur. This vicious predator relied on its tail for balance and hind legs for speed and strength – as does the robot.
The Raptor is almost as fast as DARPA’s Cheetah at 28.58mph, but features a simpler design. The robot is biped and its legs connect directly to a carbon-fiber blade. The legs are also fitted with springs that act as tendons. The Raptor’s pole-like tail plays an important part in balancing the bot and swings from side to side as it runs.
The Raptor is one of the most lightweight running robots, but it’s still under construction. The robot must still be connected to a machine to remain upright at top speed, but developers are working on making the bot standalone without sacrificing speed.
Outside of just being cool, running robots are of high interest to the military. Having a speedy, remote-controlled robot means more precise attacks without putting soldiers in harm’s way. There has even been talk about swapping out human soldiers for humanoid robots with artificial intelligence.
This is far from the last that we’ll see of running robots. For a terrifying experience, look up DARPA & Boston Dynamics' WildCat. Let’s just say you wouldn’t want to meet this life-sized feline as an enemy of the state.
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