Small, light, and quick, the cheetah-cub robot is a robust little experiment in robotics and biomechanics from EPFL, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, one of two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology. From actu.epfl.ch:
Even though it doesn’t have a head, you can still tell what kind of animal it is: the robot is definitely modeled upon a cat… The purpose of the platform is to encourage research in biomechanics; its particularity is the design of its legs, which make it very fast and stable…
The number of segments – three on each leg – and their proportions are the same as they are on a cat. Springs are used to reproduce tendons, and actuators – small motors that convert energy into movement – are used to replace the muscles.
In the future, the stability and speed of this robot could be key attributes for finding people in search and rescue missions or for exploration of rough terrain.
"For years and years, vertebrate paleontologists have really been confined to working with the shapes, with the morphology, of bones and with skeletons, as you can see behind me here. And our hypotheses about how these ancient animals lived and moved was based on how we could put these bones together in the physical world.
"And now for the first time in the history of paleontology, we’re able to move beyond those methods and into this virtual landscape where we can test our biomechanical hypotheses in rigorous ways that were never possible before."
In February 2012, Dr. Lacovara’s paleontology department teamed up with the University’s engineering department to scan their fossils to make 3D models that could be made into fully working arms and legs. Wrap some engineered muscles around those… add more parts… and perhaps we’ve got the most accurate robot dinosaur ever made!