This is remarkable: "The robot, called the cheetah, can run on batteries at speeds of more than 10 mph, jump about 16 inches high, land safely and continue galloping for at least 15 minutes—all while using less power than a microwave oven."

Strong, lightweight components that made untethered running possible, including a carbon fiber-and-foam sandwich frame that can absorb the forces generated by running and jumping.

Some off-the-shelf components, including an Xbox controller for maneuvering the robot and wireless Internet communications for sending commands to the mechanical cheetah, also came in handy.

Each leg is propelled by three motors that can generate powerful forces at slow speeds.

Still, researchers continue to tweak their prototype, looking to add additional sensors that would eventually make the robot autonomous.

"In the next 10 years, our goal is we are trying to make this robot to save a life," Kim said.