MIT’s new robot dog has a surprisingly cool party trick

MIT’s new four-legged (robot) friend proves you can teach a small metal dog new tricks, as it has become the first four-legged robot in the world to pull off a backflip.

The robot, dubbed the Mini Cheetah, is also flexible enough to walk on its four legs right-side up or upside down without any real issues, in addition to being able to cover uneven terrain at around twice the speed of a normal person. It can even walk sideways, or right itself if it takes a tumble.

But really, we’re all here for the backflip,right?

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It’s hard to top that. A backflip from a standing position is a difficult feat yet the Mini Cheetah manages it fairly easily, and apparently will take only minor damage if it stacks it and hits the ground.

In fact, even if the 9KG robot does pick up some damage it was assembled from off-the-shelf parts and the legs are powered by three identical low-cost electric motor, and if one does fail you can always just replace it with another one. Lead developer Benjamin Katz, a technical associate in MIT’s department of mechanical engineering, even mentions: “you could put these parts together, almost like Legos.”

“A big part of why we built this robot is that it makes it so easy to experiment and just try crazy things, because the robot is super robust and doesn’t break easily, and if it does break, it’s easy and not very expensive to fix,” says Katz.

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The Mini Cheetah is a miniature version of the Cheetah 3, which is much larger and a lot more delicate. The researchers behind it will be showing off the ‘bot at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in May, and they’re also trying to build several more Mini Cheetah robots, up to a set of 10, so that they can be loaned out to other labs. Their reasoning? By loaning them out and each working on different algorithms and ideas, they’re going to advance the field faster.

You can read more on the specifics on this MIT blog post.

I for one welcome our dog-robot overlords. We’re on Twitter at @TrustedReviews