For those of us prone to fretting about the inevitable robot revolution, here comes more bad news. We know can't beat them, we certainly can't join them, and now it looks like we won't be able to outrun them either.
A Florida startup company is hoping to crowdfund their latest initiative, a small, nimble and superfast multi-legged robot that can achieve speeds of more than 20 miles per hour over mixed terrain. Athletic humans top out at about 23 mph and let's face it, most of us aren't that fit.
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The OutRunner is based on biological design models that emulate how animals run and walk. The robot is self-balancing and uses two sets of spoked "legs" that rotate around on either side of the central body. "By having a center of mass lower than the leg axis of rotation, OutRunner robots exploit a buoyancy effect, making them inherently stable and eliminating the need for expensive sensors and complex control algorithms," according to the project's Kickstarter page.
The company behind the OutRunner, Robotics Unlimited, is a spinoff of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), a not-for-profit research group affiliated with several Florida universities.
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The OutRunner comes in two models: The basic OutRunner Core has six legs (three on each side) with a one-hour battery life and top speed of about 10 mph. The Core is 18 inches tall and weighs about three pounds.
The advanced OutRunner Performance runs with up to 12 legs, has a two-hour battery life and can accelerate past 20 mph. Both models can be controlled via dedicated RC unit, or the Performance model can be steered with a smartphone. Various upgrade packages are planned, allowing for hardware and software add-ons, including an HD video camera and Wi-Fi transmission back to your smartphone.
Check out the impressive project video below, and you'll see that the OutRunner robots move with a weird kind of organic grace. They actually do look like a lot of fun. Now picture them chasing you down across the post-apocalyptic wastelands. Good times!