Humans Are No Match For This Sprinting Robot

A new world record for the 100m dash has been set by a little box on legs named "Cassie." This makes Cassie — invented by the Oregon State University College of Engineering and produced by Agility Robotics — the current fastest bipedal robot in the world. As the video for the record-breaking run shows, Cassie is able to maintain balance and speed while trotting along at a comfortable (in as much as a robot can be comfortable) pace from start to finish. 

Considering the challenges of teaching a machine to balance itself while in motion, that's no easy task. The team has stated that one of the biggest unexpected challenges was actually just getting Cassie to start from a standing position, then stop in a standing position, without tipping over.

According to OSU, Cassie was originally tested in a 5K run back in 2021, finishing in just over 53 minutes with no tether support and on a single battery charge. This time around, the designers wanted to see just how fast the little robot could go. "The exciting part of this race is the potential," said OSU robotics professor Jonathan Hurst. "Using learned policies for robot control is a very new field, and this 100-meter dash is showing better performance than other control methods."

How doomed are we?

Despite Cassie legitimately breaking a world record in a 100m run, your average human isn't in much danger of being chased down by robot overlords just yet. Cassie's new 24.73-second world record specifically pertains to bipedal robots, not humans — in fact, the current human world record for 100m is still held by Usain Bolt at less than half the time (9.58 seconds).

Obviously, this means Olympic- and professional-level runners are in the clear, but non-professional runners will (possibly) be fine, too. Cassie's run breaks down to a speed of roughly 9 miles per hour, which isn't too shabby. And while the average human running speed fluctuating somewhere between 6.2 and 7.3 mph doesn't sound promising (via Strava), that average jumps to around 12 mph when someone really pushes it — say, for example, if they're running for their lives from a robot. 

The robot does already have one big advantage that humans simply can't beat, however: it never gets tired. While humans will only be able to sustain their fastest running speeds for a little while, a robot can continue on for as long as its battery has enough juice to keep it moving. On top of that, the robot doesn't have to worry about being taken down by an unexpected muscle cramp, and it never requires sleep. Those benefits no doubt also come in handy when robots engage in elaborate and surprisingly smooth dance numbers.