Speed Demon HOUND: Robo-dog sets a new world record at 100 meters



by SEDEDIN DEDOVIC

Speed Demon HOUND: Robo-dog sets a new world record at 100 meters
© KAIST DRCD Lab / Youtube channel

HOUND, a dynamic four-legged robot created by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), has carved its name into the Guinness Book of World Records. The nimble machine recently achieved a world record time of 19.87 seconds for the 100m dash, cementing its place as the fastest four-legged robot on Earth.

But HOUND is more than just a speed demon. This 45kg wonder embodies the cutting edge of robot design, boasting not only the ability to run at a high speed of 3 meters per second, but also the ability to cross grass, walk long distances and even climb slopes at a respectable 22 degree angle.

Achieving these achievements is no small feat. HOUND's power comes from carefully crafted mechanics, from the motor controller to the complex gear configuration. "Instant and stable performance is key to dynamic leg movement," explains Young-Ha Shin, HOUND's designer.

This translates into a carefully designed parallel actuator system for the hips and knees, with a hollow neck that efficiently transfers power to the joints. For the knees, a belt and pulley system ensures a wide range of motion, while a planetary gear system maximizes power transmission efficiency.

Advanced simulations and state-of-the-art software

This record-breaking feat also depends on state-of-the-art software. Through a process called reinforcement learning, HOUND's movements are optimized through advanced simulations.

Imagine teaching a robot through trial and error, but on a digital training ground – that's essentially what this technique entails. And to ensure a true-to-life workout, the simulations even factored in engine characteristics, pushing the actuators to their limits in the virtual world before unleashing the HOUND on the real track.

While the HOUND's speed is impressive, it's not the first robotic speedster. In 2012, DARPA's Cheetah robot left Usain Bolt in the dust (figuratively, of course) by hitting 45.5 km/h in 20 meters. And in 2022, Cassie, a bipedal robot from Agility Robotics, set a Guinness World Record for the fastest bipedal bot, running 100 meters in 24.73 seconds.

However, HOUND's sprint of 19.87 seconds puts it in a league of its own among four-legged robots. While it still has a ways to go to match Bolt's record sprint of 9.58 seconds in 2009, HOUND's achievement marks a significant leap in the robotics industry.