MIT's robotic cheetah has gained a new sidekick, and the nimble sibling of the four-legged galloping droid has a few impressive tricks of its own. Smaller, lighter and not to be outshone, the Mini Cheetah's acrobatics have been showcased in a video shared by the researchers, including some very natural looking movements and a gracefully executed backflip.

The Mini Cheetah is far smaller than the latest version of the Cheetah robot, which tipped the scales at 90 lb (41 kg) making it the size of a fully developed large dog. A decidedly nimble 20 lb (9 kg), the Mini Cheetah can trot along untethered just like its predecessor to cover the ground at 2.45 meters per second, but its smaller frame allows it some impressive agility, too.

This includes an ability to spin around on the spot, land upright when dropped from height, maintain its balance when kicked by a human and pick itself up again when pushed over. But most impressively, it can perform a perfect backflip from a standing start on flat ground.

This calls to mind the gymnastics abilities of Boston Dynamic's Atlas humanoid robot, which first impressed with a graceful backflip and clean landing back in 2017. But according to MIT researchers, their Mini Cheetah is the first four-legged robot to perform such a feat.

With its eerily natural running style and ability to get back up when knocked down, it's not the first quadruped robot to evoke haunting images of a Black Mirror episode called "Metalhead," in which a robotic dog wreaks terror over human protagonists in a post-apocalyptic world. The SpotMini from Boston Dynamics also features unnervingly natural mechanics and recently learned how to open up closed doors, a disconcerting sign for those fearful of a robot apocalypse.

To see the new Mini Cheetah do its thing, check out the video below.

View gallery - 3 images