Many of us are familiar with the Pengaton's Cheetah robot — the world's fastest mechanical mammal. But that feline brute is rather big and, well, even a bit severe. Thankfully, there's now a kinder, gentler version — the cheetah-cub robot.

Developed by EPFL's Biorobotics Laboratory, cheetah-cub's legs were designed to mimic feline morphology. It's got three leg segments on each leg, and the proportions match those of a real cat. Springs are used to replicate the function of tendons, while actuators perform the role of muscles.

This is the fastest and most adorable robotic cat yetS

And like a real cat, it's small, light, stable — and fast. And in fact, it's now the fastest robot in its category, namely trotting quadruped robots that are under 66 pounds (30 kg). This little guy can run nearly seven times its body length in one second, reaching a maximum speed of 1.42 m/s (3.2 mph).

For reference, DARPA's Cheetah can run 28.3 miles per hour, or 12.65 m/s.

Cheetah-cub is not as agile as a real cat, but it is equipped with sophisticated auto-stabilization features that kick in when it's running full tilt or navigating through obstacle-laden terrain.

Read more at International Journal of Robotics Research: "Towards Dynamic Trot Gait Locomotion — Design, Control and Experiments with Cheetah-cub, a Compliant Quadruped Robot."

Compliant being the key word. For now...

Image: EPFL.