Many robots are dependent on cameras or other sensors to give them visual cues to find their way around. However, this technology falls short when it comes to guiding robots through dark or crammed spaces.
Now, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology lab has designed a new robot that overcomes these obstacles. The Cheetah 3 robot does not need to “see” where it is going while, say, climbing stairs. A new video (above) from MIT shows the 90-pound robot dodging obstacles without the assistance of cameras, using a technique dubbed “blind locomotion.”
According to a press release, the team that created Cheetah 3 used contact detection algorithms and sensors to enable the robot to locate its own body relative to the space around it. New hardware changes, an upgrade from Cheetah 2, also enable it to stretch and twist.
Sangbae Kim, the robot’s designer and an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, stated in the release that the robot would be used to carry out tasks that are dangerous or impossible – because of inaccessibility – for humans. “Cheetah 3 is designed to do versatile tasks such as power plant inspection, which involves various terrain conditions including stairs, curbs, and obstacles on the ground,” Kim said.