(Source: Boston Dynamics via YouTube)
Don't worry, if you're a world-class runner you can outrun this mean quadruped

For those who fear that one day our robotic contraptions may turn on us, you may have felt cold chill when witnessing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funded "Cheetah" -- a headless robotic quadruped by Boston Dynamics.  But at least Cheetah -- faster than any human at speeds of 26 miles per hour -- was constrained to a tether. 

Well, your worst nightmares have now been realized as Cheetah is now running free as a next generation model dubbed "WildCat".  

The good news is that the untethered robotic cat (which bears a vague resemblance to the Transformer robot "Ravage") isn't quite as fast.  WildCat is capable of galloping or bounding gates at speeds of up to 16 miles per hour, where as the the fastest human can reach speeds of 27.79 miles per hour (with Olympic training).

The bad news is that WildCat can cover a mile in just 3 minutes and 45 seconds.  That's faster than any American alive today or any human for that matter, save three men -- Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj, who holds the world record for running a mile in 3 min 43.13 seconds; Kenyan Noah Ngeny (3:43.40); and Algerian Noureddine Morceli (3:44.39).

Cheetah and WildCat are produced by Boston Dynamics, a small defense contractor that was a spinoff of Professor Marc Raibert's university "Leg Lab".

Presumably the new war robot could used for hauling soldiers gear through dangerous battlefields, or as a terrifying tool to kill "enemy combatants", particularly if the speed can be bumped up closer to its predecessor.  

Sources: Boston Dynamics [1], [2], IEEE Spectrum

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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