You’ve been horrified by BigDog, DARPA’s creepy robot canine that could one day carry cargo for troops traveling overland. You’ve cooed with delight over LittleDog, the little brother robot that looks like a Dustbuster come to life. Now meet Boston Dynamics’ AlphaDog, the head-honcho of the pack.
This massive quadraped robot has the same cargo carrying mission as BigDog, but with significantly increased range and payload. Boston Dynamics says that when finished, AlphaDog is expected to carry some 400 pounds of equipment for 20 miles. This video of the prototype shows off the AlphaDog, already carrying a hefty payload, retaining its incredible ability to stay upright despite being kicked by its creators, and of course its unsettling gate. It also packs at least one new trick: A really, really creepy method for self-righting after falling.
Careful observers will note that the AlphaDog doesn’t sound like the horrific spawn of a two-cycle motor and demonic bees straight from Satan’s honey farm, as the early videos of BigDog demonstrated. While I’m certainly no expert, AlphaDog appears to be connected to an external power supply and thus lacks the irritating noise. When the final version of the robot is scheduled to debut in 2012, we’ll know for sure.
(via IEEE Spectrum)
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