Washington: The Pentagon's main research agency has created the fastest-ever land robot named "Cheetah," which can gallop at a speed of 18 miles (29 kilometres) per hour, scientists said this week.

The headless robot looks about the size of a small dog and is shown running on a treadmill in pictures and video released Monday by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

"The robot's movements are patterned after those of fast-running animals in nature," DARPA said in a statement.

"The robot increases its stride and running speed by flexing and un-flexing it’s back on each step, much as an actual cheetah does."

Cheetah's dash has set a "new land speed record for legged robots," besting the previous holder of 13.1 mph (21 kph) set in 1989, the agency added.

The robot was created with the help of Boston Dynamics in Waltham, Massachusetts as part of DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program which seeks to advance robotic technology.
Someday, such speedy robots could better help the US military with missions to dispose of roadside bombs and navigate other battlefield perils, the secretive agency said, declining an interview request for more information.

"The use of ground robots in military explosive-ordinance-disposal missions already saves many lives and prevents thousands of other casualties," the DARPA statement said.

"If the current limitations on mobility and manipulation capabilities of robots can be overcome, robots could much more effectively assist war fighters across a greater range of missions."