Unisexual Ambystoma

Unisexual Ambystoma

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Chased by a Robot Cheetah

Charismatic animal? Check.
Neat gadgets? Check.
A revealing look into something previously un-observable? Check.

Oh boy, we've got ourselves a Nature paper brewing.
Credit to Martin Heigan (left) and Richard Ashurst (right)

A study published in the journal Nature led by Dr. Alan Wilson shines a light on why the way cheetahs move is so interesting. By using collars with some very fancy devices that measure how the animals change speed and direction, the research team showed that even though cheetahs are the fastest land animal on Earth, their ability to stop is what really catches dinner.

The collared cheetahs displayed some of the highest values for acceleration, deceleration, and centripetal acceleration (commonly explained by G-force) that have been measured in wild animals. Check out more in-depth info from the press stories at NPR and The New York Times. The bottom line is this: cheetahs don't move like dragsters or Usain Bolt, they move like F1 race cars.

As an added bonus, I was exploring Dr. Wilson's webpage and found out that he has collaborated with Boston Dynamics in designing a cheetah robot:

My love for these videos of strange robots is only equaled by my love for how hard the make me laugh. I feel like this will quickly change as we get closer to a robot apocalypse. 

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