Kickstarter Tech Pick: OutRunner, a running robot


We’ve seen robots that walk on six, four, two legs, hop on one leg, or even balance on a ball ...

As clever as that is it turns out that getting robots to actually run on any number of legs is really hard. Serious robotics companies have come up with solutions such as the Wildcat (see the video below) developed by Boston Dynamics (now owned by Google). This is perhaps one of the scariest things I’ve seen for a long time as it’s headless and appears to be running backwards (just imagine a military version chasing you down):

Obviously the Wildcat comes with a monstrous price tag so, if you want a robot that can run and that you can afford, what are you going to do? How about investing in a cool Kickstarter campaign?

The  OutRunner is a legged ‘bot that can run up to 20 mph, can tolerate moderately rough terrain, and can operate for about 2 hours on battery power.

The legs of the OutRunner are actually spring-loaded spokes on a hub; three on each side in the Core version and three, four, or six per side in the Performance edition. The Core stands about 1.5 feet high and weighs just under 3 pounds while the Performance is about 2 feet high and weighs about 5 pounds. 

Both versions have a universal camera mount and an on-board processor. The Performance also comes with a 720p, 30fps HD camera, WiFi, 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, and the ability to live stream video and sensor data to a smartphone. 

The Core is expected to retail for around $400 (project backers can get an unassembled  kit for $249) while the Performance will be priced at about $1,000 (backers can get one of these for $799). As of writing, 82 backers have pledged $19,291 on a goal of $150,000 and the campaign has 23 days to go.

While the Wildcat may be a frightening idea so, potentially, is the OutRunner. A militarized version … cheap, expendable, fast, and weaponizedcould be deployed in, for example, war zones and just sit around waiting for intruders to hunt down. 

Even so, this is a very interesting project that could have some profound peaceful uses beyond ‘bot racing such as wildlife tracking and monitoring and remote sensing. Let me know if you invest ...

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