This soccer-playing robot is no cheater

But it is a 'cheetah'!
The mini cheetah is capable of performing all sorts of tasks including an unexpected one. Playing sports! (MIT Robotics Lab)

Researchers at the Hybrid Robotics Lab at the University of California have been working on some rather curious tests.

They have been testing a 'cheetah' robot to see if it can play soccer.

A sports-playing cat-like robot? Why not!

While not exactly something that has a lot of practical purposes, these tests do reveal something. They are an excellent way to see just how well robots can react to randomized, unpredictable tasks—something sports are full of!

Go mini cheetah, go!

The robot in question, called the mini cheetah, was built by engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At first, the Hybrid Robotics Lab tested how well the robot could kick a ball and hit certain targets.

The video below shows a mini cheetah 'having a hit' at targets that were at different angles and distances.

As you can tell from watching the videos, the results are ... not too bad! It usually hits or comes quite close to the target. It's not exactly a strong kicker of the ball though. But hey, maybe striker just isn't the best position for the mini cheetah.

What about playing goalkeeper?

It's a keeper!

Sure enough, once the researchers switched positions to keeper, it really excelled!

The researchers started it off easy, with the robot facing off against another mini cheetah. These shots were slow and low and quite easy to save. But then, human players were brought in. To the researchers delight, even when the shots got higher, harder, and faster, the robot made save after save.

In the end, it finished with an 87.5 percent save rate, which is right in line with the save percentages of keepers in the top league in the world. So would you play a game of soccer with this cool cat? (Maybe it should join a league with this crew!)

Watch the video below to see it saving the day. Its reaction time is really impressive!

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