x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Cheetah technology

A new robotic "cheetah" is no match for its prototype in nature. Time, however, favours the robot.

At a cost of who-knows-how-many millions of taxpayers' dollars, the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency has unveiled a four-legged robot "cheetah" that can go 29 kph.

It takes some temerity to call this thing a cheetah; the real animal can manage 110 kph, without a single microchip. But this is faster than the previous robot record of about 21 kph, and faster than the average human jogger, although sprint record-holder Usain Bolt has been clocked at 45 kph. No doubt the next iteration of this robot will be faster than this one; progress can't be stopped.

We are however curious about the purpose of this project; will the Pentagon's deadly unmanned drones soon be augmented by ground-pursuit hunter-killer robots? Can Terminators be far behind?

Well, they laughed at Henry Ford, too, for a long time, and the Wright brothers were considered crackpots at first. And quite a lot of our everyday technology, from jet engines to the internet, first sprouted, blossomed, and bore fruit in military seedbeds. Technology moves slowly at first, say at just 21 and then 29 kph. But it does just keep speeding up.

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