Military robot dog learns new trick
Engineers still have a number of kinks to work out before the dog can enter the field, including how loud it is.
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 at 11:39 AM
BigDog learns to hurl concrete. (Photo: Boston Dynamics)
You won't want to play fetch with this dog.
Boston Dynamic's BigDog robot is now capable of flinging a block of concrete over his shoulder. About the size of a retriever, but with the weight of a pack of five such dogs, BigDog has been designed as a pack mule for soldiers in the field.
The 3-foot-long metallic dog never gets tired. It can run at 4 mph, climb slopes up to 35 degrees, walk in snow and water and carry a 340-pound load. It can stand up, squat down, crawl, trot, run and even bound — BigDog's "flight" phase. BigDog set a world's record for legged vehicles by traveling 12.8 miles without stopping or refueling.
An internal computer controls more than 50 gyros and sensors to keep it upright in rough terrain. The goal of the program, funded in part by DARPA , is to create a legged robot that can go anywhere a person or animal can, as well as giving it some "super-dog" powers, such as hurling heavy objects.
But BigDog still has a way to go to match its canine role models. For instance, it still needs the ability to get back up after falling, and it's got to be a lot quieter. Currently, BigDog is as loud as a motorcycle, which is not practical for stealthy missions.
The team at Boston Dynamics is also working on a program that teaches BigDog to follow its master without the use of a remote control and find its own way via preprogrammed GPS points.
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