Tag: Big Dog

Stubborn Progress

WWII Pack MuleMy love of Boston Dynamics’ robotic cargo-carrier, Big Dog, is well documented, but it’s quite obvious that, while impressive, the four-legged hauler is more prototype than finished product.

Technology has made massive strides in the last century, but there are some areas in which we simply haven’t bettered the methodologies of our ancestors – despite the advances of industrial mechanization, fifteenth-century farmers could still teach us a thing or two.

The goal, as National Defense magazine reports, is to take some of the weight off soldiers’ backs during long war-zone foot patrols. In Afghanistan, it’s not uncommon for soldiers to carry 100 pounds of gear, even when they’re scaling mountains.

If everything works out, the future Army could look a lot like the Army of the 19th century, with trains of braying, kicking mules trailing behind the foot soldiers as they stomp through fields, slog through streams and wheeze up steep hillsides. As in the Army of the 1800s, teams of specially trained veterinarians and animal handlers would ensure the combat mules stayed battle-ready.


[youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sx8JuSRiXnU]
Think of mules as one of our early forays into genetic experimentation – or, at least, as the result of a slow Saturday night on some ancient rancher’s spread.

They require less food and water than a horse of the same size. The mules hooves are harder than horses hooves, and both the mule and the mules hooves show a natural resistance to disease and insects.

A-Z Animals

Killer Chinese Knock-Off

Armor Types from the game OvergrowthDespite my peace-loving ways, I tend to spend more time than I should considering the future of war.

Do you recall the scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which the monolith-touching ape realizes he might smash bone if he utilizes a femur as a club? Combat is still all about tool use, and the more advanced the bludgeon, the more likely the victory.

Centuries ago, those who could afford chain-mail outlived those who had only leather. Eventually, however, those who could muster a suit of plate-armour laughed mockingly at the poor schmucks who could only obtain a suit of chain – the chortling ceased with the inception of gunpowder.

I don’t need to run through each technological turn, but it’s obvious that the links lead us straight down the line to automatic rifles and fighter jets.

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKyf8MGnNM0″]

There’s something almost tender about the slow, questing, feet of this Chinese robot known as FROG-1. It feels, to me at least, like watching a lion cub take its first steps, and nevermind that it’s likely the future of applied death-dealing.

Obviously inspired by Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog, the knock-off still has a long way to go before being a threat on the battlefield, but it’s certainly coming – and, as go the superpowers, so too the world. We need no more evidence of that than the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Our ancestors used to speak of swords being converted to ploughshares, and there’s no doubt that this technology will have some fantastic civilian uses – but the truth is, the adage once operated in both directions: in a time of war, the local blacksmith could just as easily form weapons from that which once provided food.

What will we do, if it comes down to it? Entrust the local TV repairman to assemble a defense from plasma flat-screens and abandoned VCRs?
Types of Armour

Christmas with Boston Dynamics

Around our house, Boston Dynamics are the rock stars of robotic technology. Finding that they’ve distributed a new video on youtube is like waking up to a full stocking on Christmas morning. I’ve posted previously about their most famous design, The Big Dog, but here’s an updated video – now with 50% more “Holy #$%@, did you SEE that?”

[youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNZPRsrwumQ]

The bit where it’s climbing cement blocks near the end got me wondering what happened to an older off-shoot of the Big Dog project, Little Dog:

[youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIipbi0cAVE]

Back to having my mind blown with new content though, they’ve managed to get The Petman up to 4.4mph!

What’s The Petman you may ask? It’s either the cutting edge in bipedal robots or walking wide-awake nightmare fuel.

[youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ja_UsmXVPVk]