MIT’s speedy Mini Cheetah robot learns to backflip

MIT’s Cheetah team has built some incredibly impressive electric robots, capable of jumping hurdles and navigating blindly, but in some ways the new Mini Cheetah might be the most impressive to date.

The robot weighs a mere 20 pounds and is capable of a wide range of different feats, leading the team to declare it “virtually indestructible.” This video should give you a pretty good idea of what we’re working with here:

The robot is capable of running up to five miles per hour, can perform a 360-degree backflip from a standing position and will right itself quickly after being kicked to the ground. The little Cheetah is also easily repaired. Each of its four legs are powered by three inexpensive electric motors.

When a part fails, it easily can be swapped out for a new one, with the robot getting back on its feet in no time. “A big part of why we built this robot is that it makes it so easy to experiment and just try crazy things,” lead developer Benjamin Katz said in a press release, “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.”

MIT is already creating a small army of the small and relatively inexpensive robots, with 10 more on the way, “to form a mini cheetah research consortium of engineers, who can invent, swap, and even compete with new ideas,” according to the school.