How Many Robotic Animals Do We Need?

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Remember the post back in January 2009 about the “creepy headless donkey machine“? Well, we can now add creepy headless cheetah machine to that list.

Earlier this week MSNBC.com had an article on how a robo-cheetah had set a new speed record. (When did we start keeping records of robot speed, by the way?) The headless machine was clocked at a blistering 18 mph, besting the previous record set by MIT Leg Lab’s Planar Biped Robot, which was clocked at 13.1 mph back in 1989. (As a side note, actual cheetahs–you know, the ones with fur and a head and tail–have been clocked at up to 70 mph, so the machine still has a ways to go.)

You can see the video on MSNBC.com, but it’s rather odd because, to me, it looks like it’s running backwards. Although I could be wrong, what do you think?

These kind of stories make me think–why do we waste thousands of dollars on projects such as these, when we could put it towards more endearing things such as horses in need? I have yet to see any applicable notions to help mankind come from these contraptions. It’s not like they’re trying to come up with prosthetic appendages for cheetahs or donkeys from this research, nor do I think the use of such machines will replace automobiles as modes of transportation

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