A team of brainy MIT researchers have built a four-legged robot that is meant to mimic the movement and - eventually - speed of an actual cheetah.

The cheetah is considered the fastest land animal on Earth because it can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in a few seconds. MIT researchers have analysed the cheetah and how it runs, including noticing how it pumps its legs in tandem and bounds until it reaches a full gallop, and developed an algorithim that allows a robot made of gears, batters, and electric motors to reach similary fast speeds.

While MIT's robot cheetah - called cheetah-bot - can't do 60 mph just yet, it reached 10 mph on an indoor track during an experiement and might one day reach 30 mph. Apart from its speed, one of the more interesting aspects of the cheetah-bot is how it is powered.

The cheetah-bot uses a custom-designed, high-torque-density electric motor, and the motors are controlled by amplifiers. Traditionally, robots with multipled legs are powered by an internal combustion engine and hydraulic transmission. But those methods were deemed too noisey and inefficient for MIT's robot cheetah.

MIT - also known as Massachusetts Institute of Technology - is a private research university, and its researchers plan to present the cheetah-bot algorithim, which enables precise control over the forces a robot can exert while running, at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in September.

Watch the video above for more information or to see MIT's robot cheetah jump over 30cm while leaping over obstacles. It's pretty impressive...and creepy-looking.