A new level has been set in the world of robotics, with engineers unveiling the fastest robotic runner ever built.

The new 'WildCat' is a product of DARPA, the United States' military research arm. WildCat has its own power source, making it fully mobile and capable of running down friend or foe at 26 kilometres an hour.

Engineering firm Boston Dynamics took the lead on the project, moving it from the prototype 'Cheetah' to its fully-fledged and quite capable current state. Boston Dynamics say there are only good intentions from the super sprinter. They say it could be used in emergency rescue, disaster recovery and supporting military operations.

The secretive and powerful benefactors at DARPA say they are in to “sponsoring revolutionary, high-payoff research bridging the gap between fundamental discoveries and their military use.”

The United States military is rapidly expanding its team of mechanical helpers. They will soon be able to enlist the skills of stars – Big Dog, a pack mule that can haul nearly 200kgs; or Atlas, the humanoid with incredible strength and radar vision; or any one of legions of capable and lethal flying drones.

WildCat is still just a kitten compared to what it will become; its creators say they are are looking to build a four-legged robot that can move over 80 kilometres an hour.