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See MIT's Mini Cheetah backflipping robots play a mean game of soccer

CNET logo CNET 11/8/2019 Bonnie Burton
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When autumn hits and leaves are on the ground, it's fun to take your dog outside to play. And that includes robot dogs of course. 

MIT's Biomimetic Robotics Lab posted a new video this week showing off the skills of its Mini Cheetah robots -- lightweight and quadruped robots the university has been developing for awhile now. The video shows the dog-like robots hopping up and down, doing backflips and even playing soccer. The new footage almost makes the robots look like they're having fun. 

Each Mini Cheetah weighs around 20 pounds (9 kilograms), is powered by 12 electrical motors and can reach speeds of around 5 mph (2.2 meters per second). Earlier in the year, MIT showed off the Mini Cheetah robot's new talent for doing backflips.

a group of people playing football on a field: MIT Biomimetic Robotics Lab's Mini Cheetah robots play some soccer in the park. Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. MIT Biomimetic Robotics Lab's Mini Cheetah robots play some soccer in the park. Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

While these robots are fun to watch, they do have a rather eerie side. But not to fear, they aren't exactly Terminator-level dangerous. 

"Twenty pounds is not too small but not so big that it's dangerous or fragile," Director of MIT's Biomimetic Robotics Lab Sangbae Kim told IEEE Spectrum in March. 

If you enjoy watching Mini Cheetah's robots frolic together outside, Kim has hinted he wants test the robots further with an obstacle course.   

"Eventually, I'm hoping we could have a robotic dog race through an obstacle course, where each team controls a mini cheetah with different algorithms, and we can see which strategy is more effective," Kim added. "That's how you accelerate research."

Aibo robot dogs and the people who love them

a man holding a teddy bear: Meet Chris Benham and his Sony Aibo ERS-1000 robot dog, Bentley.

Meet Chris Benham and his Sony Aibo ERS-1000 robot dog, Bentley.
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