Tag: Boston Dynamics

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

Robotic Combat Felines

Proposed Cheetah from Wired.com ArticleMy favourite roboticist firm, Boston Dynamics, has found a new way to bring on our terrifying future.

BigDog’s makers are working on a new quadruped that moves faster than any human and is agile enough to “chase and evade.”

Boston Dynamics, maker of the Army’s robotic mule BigDog announced today that Darpa has awarded it a contract to build a much faster and more fearsome animal-like robot, Cheetah. – Danger Room

As a reminder, here’s BD’s lastest youtube video of Big Dog – from a year ago.


This project is definitely worth keeping an eye on, although the image at top leaves me thinking in terms of the old Transformers character, Ravage.


Frankenstein's Weeping Monster

MarvinI understand the want, and need, to move away from testing weaponry on things that are actually alive, but, in some cases, what alternative do we have?

Enter robotics firm Midwest Research Institute (with a little assistance from our favourite terror-machine creators, Boston Dynamics).

From Polijam.com

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Nov. 18 (UPI) — A humanoid robotic mannequin for testing equipment against chemical warfare agents is being developed by Missouri’s Midwest Research Institute.

Great, some sort of robo-mannequin is a much better solution that gassing rabbits – right? At first this sounded, to me, like an advanced version of the crash test dummy, Buster, from Mythbusters.

“The IPEMS features a chemical-agent test facility — exposure chamber and supporting structures — and a free-standing, self-balancing robot that simulates human physiology,” said MRI Senior Vice President and Director of Research Operations Thomas M. Sack. “Once complete, the mannequin, dressed in IPE, can be tested using a variety of environmental conditions and simulated warfighter activities in the presence of chemical agent. – more

Something about the statement “free-standing, self-balancing robot that simulates human physiology” has me feeling a little weird about this experiment. How far do we need to go to replicate human physiology and reaction in case of chemical attack?

Will this mannequin’s nose run and eyes water when sarin gas hits its simulated face?

Will it provide verbal feedback as to its current situation? Will it ask you to “please stop”?

Would you be willing to push the “initiate test” button on something that could?

Westworld Poster Detail

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]