Good luck trying to flee from this robotic 'snake monster'

It's no use fleeing from these animal-inspired robots

Inventors drawing inspiration from the natural world is nothing new, but the latest crop of animal-inspired robots are closer than ever to their flesh-and-blood forebears.

At MIT, a robotic cheetah that can run at an impressive 18 miles per hour has now gained the ability to jump too. The machine, which bears the unimaginative title of "Cheetah 2", is the first four-legged bot to autonomously run and jump over obstacles.

Yes, you read that right - autonomously. The robot doesn't need to be told to jump over something - its software detects and analyses hurdles, triggering the jump command at the exactly right moment to clear the object. It's surely only a matter of time now until the first robot Grand National.

Meanwhile, researchers at Carnegie Mellon university have been working for decades on snake-inspired robots. Now, however, they've connected six of these serpent bots together to form something they're calling "Snake Monster". The snakes are the monster's legs, all connected to a central hub.

They're super-simple to program, allowing one team member to teach Snake Monster to feed him lunch in just 20 minutes. But what's particularly interesting is that every leg has the ability to drive the robot on its own, meaning that if you ever find yourself in a situation where you're running away from one of these, then destroying a leg won't slow it down one bit. Good luck.

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.