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We've seen our share of running robots, both two-legged and four-legged — but this six-legged bot with the look of a wagon wheel is surely a first. Don't be fooled by the tumbleweed-like motion, though: This thing can outrun all but the quickest sprinters.
The OutRunner, as it is appropriately called, is designed by Robotics Unlimited in Florida, and (naturally) is looking for funding on Kickstarter. The team hopes the novel locomotion technique will attract robot and remote control hobbyists.
It works much as you'd guess from the way it looks. The whole thing spins forward, taking the weight off the current spoke or leg and passing it to the next. But before the first spoke leaves the ground, it gives a little push, propelling the robot forward. It's actually a bit like how we run — except for the extra four legs.
Spinning keeps it stable, like a bike, and you can steer it with a controller or smartphone app. The "core" version lasts an hour and runs up to 10 mph, but the inevitable "performance" version lasts twice as long and runs twice as fast. That's more than enough to leave the average runner in the dust.
In fact, during testing, the OutRunner broke the world speed record for legged robots — 45 mph, faster even than Boston Dynamics' Cheetah, which can hit 29 mph.
Backers will get a robot starting at the $250 level, but you'll have to shell out $800 if you want the performance edition. That's quite a chunk of change, but this is certainly a unique and powerful robot.