Science Spotlight

Station CHEE

Researcher: Alan Wilson
Royal Veterinary College in London

Name: Cheetah
State: Botswana
Country: Botswana
Elevation: 927.0 m
Lat/Long:  -19.9833 / 23.4167

Locomotion dynamics of wild cheetahs

How fast does a cheetah really run? To find out, Alan Wilson's research team at London's Royal Veterinary College used lightweight solar-powered collars fitted with GPS instruments. The GPS data were augmented with inertial-measurement technologies.

After testing the instruments on dogs, the researchers conducted experiments with five cheetahs in northern Botswana. Surprisingly, the fastest recorded speeds were only 20-25 m/sec, while the scientists were expecting to see values of 29 m/sec. Most of the time, hunting speeds were much lower, only ~15 m/sec. Why the difference? The researchers discovered that cheetahs are extraordinarily good at changing directions - as it turns out that the ability to maneuver is just as important as speed. More information on this experiment can be found at Dr. Wilson's website. Photograph credits: Wilson et al., 2013.

Figure 1. Photograph of the lightweight GPS collar.

Figure 3. Cheetahs are extraordinarily good at slowing down quickly.


Figure 2. Schematic of the acceleration directions for a cheetah on the hunt.

Last modified: 2019-12-26  16:24:57  America/Denver  


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