MIT’s Cheetah 3 robot can climb stairs and step over obstacles without the help of cameras or visual sensors.
Credit: Courtesy of the researchers; Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives license

The latest version of the robot ‘Cheetah’ is able to traverse serious obstacles and through difficult terrain without visual aids.


The MIT-developed robot Cheetah is now being developed in its third edition. The new version should be able to climb stairs and over obstacles without the help of either camera or visual sensors.



Its new abilities open up for, among other things, the robot to be used to investigating and Recognization of environments that are difficult, dirty or dangerous to people, according to MIT News.

“There are many unexpected behaviors the robot should be able to handle without relying too much on vision,”

“Vision can be noisy, slightly inaccurate, and sometimes not available, and if you rely too much on vision, your robot has to be very accurate in position and eventually will be slow. So we want the robot to rely more on tactile information. That way, it can handle unexpected obstacles while moving fast.”

– Robot’s designer, Sangbae Kim, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT.

A contact detection algorithm helps Cheetah decide when to take a step, pull a leg or swing it. Another algorithm helps Cheetah regain the balance if it is exposed to a kick.

The algorithms are designed to make calculations for each leg every 50 milliseconds – around 20 times per second – and work much like the human brain.

The new version of Cheetah also has an expanded range of motion compared to its predecessor Cheetah 2, that allows the robot to stretch backward and forwards, and twist from side to side, much like a cat limbering up to pounce.

The team had already added cameras to the robot to give it visual feedback of its surroundings. This will help in mapping the general environment and will give the robot a visual heads-up on larger obstacles such as doors and walls. But for now, the team is working to further improve the robot’s blind locomotion

The MIT-developed robot Cheetah weighs about 40 kilos and will be as big as a full-grown Labrador. Cheetah 3 will be presented at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots in Madrid, Spain, in October.