They are little robots designed to simulate a cheetah’s anatomy. They are essentially reprogrammable puppets that walk, and walk, and walk in a way that mimics the real thing. They are small enough to be controlled by humans. Beneath a coat of pouches and on the cusp of human-like intelligence, this tiny robot can mimic almost any motion a cheetah can make (see attached video). The robots will be placed in zoos and animal care facilities for use in breeding programs.
If you read my blog over at Jamboree (aka Animal Testing.com) you may have been reading about a couple of similar projects we’ve been conducting. Each of these projects have been small scale with the focus on how the robots could be used in the wild (they’re really small and simple). The project I’m most interested in (yet again) is the Biomimetic Robotics Laboratory’s Cheetah project. This was a great little accomplishment for the researchers behind it because it allowed them to go a step beyond the more basic experiments and provide the tools that a more advanced team could access to further their goal. I think their overall goal with this project was to make the most of their tiny robot to bring us one step closer to a Cheetah replacement in the wild.
We recently received a special shipment of 10 RoboRoaches that came with 3 fully programmed “robot arms”, the RoboRobos are capable of walking, climbing, standing, crawling, turning, running, and even jumping. I’ve seen a video of this little critter with its robotic arms roaming inside a zoos enclosure which was pretty cool. They are very small (less than 4 inches long) and have a pretty unique design. They can be controlled from a computer or by a human handler. So when you hear “Robot” in your head, look at this little critter for what it actually is – a humanoid robot capable of running, standing, walking, crouching, crawling, turning, running, and jumping. We also received (also from the robot arms) 8 pieces of paper with instructions and a list of instructions on how to program them – with instructions to be published here within a year. We’re just a few years out from the creation of the perfect living robot that can serve us up some of the same type of food and companionship that we are so accustomed to today, especially cheetahs. While their habitats are still in development (they’ve only been in the wild for 6 months), what they do well seems pretty certain: they’re strong and don’t get tired. That’s why you see so many cheetahs roaming the wild in places like Africa (we can all agree). Cheetahs are social animals who don’t really have any problem sharing. One of the most common responses to the demise of cheetahs is, “It’s all about the kids, they just can’t get enough of cheetahs.” This is something the Biomimetic Robotics Laboratory is here to change that and make sure the cheetahs we continue to have as pets are better equipped to continue to live alongside us and have the freedom to roam.
We’re really looking forward to it not being long before our little cheetahs come back to us and we can work with them again.
Cheetahs, for the most part, don’t care about us being at home. The only thing that these crazy little guys like to do is go exploring, which, if you get this far, is kind of the thing in the world of cheetahs. Let’s just say they don’t really want to get up and leave us be since they’re constantly finding new people and territory.
If, as in this case, there is no chance for them to make it back, and we have to get rid of them (whether with a cull or a quarantine), I think we might be able to leave at least some of them back to the wild so that they may not make things difficult for us. It’s tough to imagine making that situation real because it’d be something they would resent. At the very least I’d like them living with humans to minimize any disruption. In other words, I’d like to avoid having either of these problems for the time being. A little reminder from the people behind the work I’m alluding to: The cheetahs were designed by an animal behavior and psychology team of scientists at the University of Guelph’s Centre for Ecological Engineering and Animal Welfare (CEEAW). Their aim has been to create robots that are capable of “interacting” and, ultimately, that will help humans, including cheetahs, better interact with their environment. They believe that such robots will reduce the amount of time, water,