Terrifying robo-cat can run 16 mph

By Deborah Netburn

Los Angeles Times

This week, Boston Dynamics unleashed its newest four-legged robot on the world.

Its name is WildCat, its movements are inspired by a cheetah, and you can see it tear around a Massachusetts parking lot in the video above.

WildCat has been designed with two different gaits -- "gallop" and "bound." You will see both gaits in the video in real-time, and also in slow motion.

The robot is designed to run quickly on all types of terrain. So far, its fastest time is 16 mph, on a flat surface.

Boston Dynamics has been working on WildCat for about a year, said Marc Raibert, a former Carnegie Mellon University and MIT professor who founded the engineering company, in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

He said the robot was sort of a next-generation version of his company's Cheetah robot. (You can see Cheetah running faster than Usain Bolt here). But the two robots have a few important differences---Cheetah needed a boom-like device to hold it up, and it didn't have to carry its own power source. WildCat operates in what Raibert calls 3D and does carry its own power.

Eventually, Raibert thinks WildCat could help us humans with emergency rescue, firefighting, disaster recovery, agriculture and supporting military operations.

I also asked Raibert what adjustments he hoped to make to WildCat over time.

"Faster. Further. Rougher terrain," he wrote.