The world’s fastest robot used to belong to Boston Dynamics. Everything that used to belong to Boston Dynamics now belongs to Google, and now their robot cheetah, which could beat Usain Bolt in a foot race, has been dethroned. The good news for the robot cheetah is that it’s still the fastest robot on four legs, but the six-legged OutRunner can run up to 45 miles an hour on a treadmill.
Florida-based company Robotics Unlimited designed the aptly-named OutRunner, which is also the world’s first remote-controlled running robot. At a top speed of 45 mph, it leaves the robot cheetah, which can reach just over 28 mph on a treadmill, in the dust. Outside, OutRunner clocks 25 miles per hour, while robot cheetah slows down to 16 mph. OutRunner has six legs—three on each side—which it spins kind of like a windmill as it whirls down the road. Its design is actually meant to emulate the human form, which is a departure from the technique of most of these robots. It’s also incredibly stable, balancing itself on even rugged terrain, and can run for two hours on a single charge.
There are actually two versions of OutRunner: Core and Performance. The former can run up to 10 mph outside and has a battery life of an hour, while the Performance is the more hard-core version that you’d use if you wanted to race (and shame) other robots. Both come in different designs, including my favorite, the shark.
Robotics Unlimited has launched a Kickstarter campaign to finalize the OutRunner design, develop a smartphone app, and organize the manufacture of the robots, which the team hopes to do in the U.S. If the $150,000 goal is met, the design and app will be finished this year and the production could start in early 2015. Pledges of $249 or more will net backers either a DIY or a fully assembled version of the OutRunner Core (which will retail for ~$400), and $799 or more will get you the OutRunner Performance (which will retail for ~$1,000).
Robotics Unlimited is also organizing the world’s first robot race, which they hope will take place in late 2015. They plan to hold three events, a drag race, an endurance race, and a slalom race. Of course, they hope OutRunner will nab a few gold medals, but such a spectacle will make the event a success regardless of who wins. If it goes well, we might just be looking at a high-tech version of the running of the bulls in the near future.