Sep. 5, 2012 at 6:40 PM ET
The Cheetah robot from Boston Dynamics, makers of BigDog, has set a new legged-robot speed record, and actually tops out at speeds that would leave Usain Bolt behind — barely.
We first encountered the Cheetah back in February, when it was shown running, or rather galloping, at 18 mph — far faster than the record at the time, 13.1 mph. On Wednesday, the robot maker published a new video of the Cheetah breaking its own record by hitting an incredible 28.3 mph, or just a touch faster than Usain Bolt at his fastest.
Right now the robot is powered externally and is attached to a tether so it doesn't fly off the treadmill and damage the lab when it stumbles, as it does at the end of the video. Its creator says that an untethered, outdoor version will be tested early next year. They won't be challenging real cheetahs to a race just yet, though; one named Sarah at the Cincinnati Zoo recently set an world record, running at 61 mph to complete the 100-meter dash in just 5.95 seconds.
DARPA is providing the funding, perhaps hoping to create fast-moving legged robots for drone or gunnery platforms. More information about Boston Dynamics, whose biomimetic designs (meaning they imitate natural biological forms) have been astonishing and horrifying the Internet for years, can be found at the company's website.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.