Elon Musk may want to build a robot that'll do your housework for you, but Boston Dynamics appears to be ahead of him on that front. They just posted a video of their new SpotMini robot that shows how it can use its giraffe-like neck for a variety of tasks—and also for being incredibly creepy as it demonstrates its ability to keep its head eerily still while its body moves around.
We make plenty of jokes about being afraid of these Boston Dynamics robot dogs (jokes, I say), but it seems like we're not alone in the "oh my gosh what is this what's happening I don't like this" camp. Dogs--that is, flesh and blood dogs--don't like them either.
The US military has been testing the use of this pack mule robot by Boston Dynamics, presumably with the hope that it would help share the load of all the heavy equipment that our armed forces carry with them in the field. Unfortunately, these robots are way too loud to use.
Robots have been laying fairly low this Christmas. None of them have, for example, attacked restaurant-goers under the guise of romance—this year. No, they were waiting until the last moment to sneak up on us, and then BAM! Surprise! It's mechanical nightmare santa!
Come on. We've all played at least one sci-fi shooting game. Boston Dynamics had to create a smaller, more cannon-foddery version of Big Dog to go along with the full size, standard enemy units they'd already built, right?
Boston Dynamics' robots are all done painting the fence and waxing their programmers' cars. They're finally learning to be karate masters, and because robots are all about efficiency, they're learning the unbeatable technique first. When done properly, there is no defense for the crane. At least, that's according to Mr. Miyagi, and who wants to argue with him?
Not content with owning you and everything you do (probably), Google has purchased Boston Dynamics; you know, the engineering company famous for making terrifying robots that will likely bring about the Skynet-pocalypse.
When last we saw the DARPA-funded "Cheetah" bot, it had just broken the world record for fastest robot with a 28.3 mph running speed. It was also pretty much stuck in one place at the time, which was comforting. Now Boston Dynamics has released video of "Wildcat", which is able to spring on its own without any assistance. Yeah, this will haunt our dreams tonight.
It's that time again, folks. Time to watch everyone's favorite headless, suit-testing robot, PETMAN, strut his stuff into hypothetical peril. No, wait -- this time our creepy friend has a head and a gas mask! And not only does he walk, he squats, twists, and turns in the uncanny valley of lifelike creepiness, ensuring a place in your nightmares tonight. Designed by Boston Dynamics, PETMAN is used to "test the performance of protective clothing designed for hazardous environments."
We're unabashed fans of DARPA's BigDog robot and its kin, AlphaDog and LittleDog, but that doesn't mean we're always totally comfortable with them. Take for example BigDog's new hand -- which is actually where the mouth would be on a real dog -- that lets it toss pieces of concrete around without a care in the world. Since the robot is designed mainly as an electronic beast of burden designed to help carry the load for soldiers in the field, it makes sense that it's finally got a robotic hand that it can use to grab and manipulate objects. As you can see in the video below, it can also use that hand to chuck cinder blocks a pretty respectable distance.
A few months back, we brought you video of the DARPA-funded, Boston Dynamics-built Legged Squad Support System (LS3) robot, known more familiarly as Alpha Dog. It looks like it's time for another update, as yesterday saw the release of Alpha' Dog's newest trick -- the ability to follow spoken orders issued by a human commander. At this point, Alpha Dog is one magical cricket away from being a real dog, and one more obedient than I've ever had. You can get a load of the robot responding to his master's voice, and then following its human leader like a lovesick metal puppy in the video below. Read More
Earlier this week, we shared footage of Boston Dynamics updated Cheetah prototype, but the robotics company isn't stopping there. They're apparently determined to dominate September's robot news cycle with video of the latest improvements to their DARPA funded off-roading automaton LS3 model, better known as Alpha Dog. While Cheetah is built for speed, Alpha Dog is a slower, steadier mechanical marvel, meant to trundle alongside soldiers in the field, and engineered with handling difficult terrain and carrying a heavy load of gear in mind.
Earlier this year, we brought you the news that the DARPA-funded Cheetah robot, crafted by the robotics masterminds at Boston Dynamics, broke the world's land speed record for robots with an 18 mph sprint. This week, the big cat inspired automaton shattered that record, travelling at a speed-blur inducing 28.3 mph. That's not only faster than any robot has ever moved -- it's faster than the human land speed record of 27.9 mph set by Usain Bolt in 2009. That's right -- there is now a robot faster than the world's fastest human, which means it is certainly capable of chasing down any one of us. You can watch the record setting run after the jump, if you're inclined to get a sneak preview of the end of the world.
You might recall from back in October of last year when footage of DARPA's PETMAN, the headless humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics, was released. The Internet kept cracking jokes about infusing the video with the immortal Bee Gees classic, "Stayin' Alive." Some even attempted said fusion to middling success. As it turns out, folks had been seeing the same funky beat in the robot's movements for years. But now, thanks to YouTube user timtrusler, we finally have a definitive version of PETMAN with true swagger. Even robots can stay alive with the best of them, though they don't take kindly to being pushed.
When we last saw a robotic humanoid from Boston Dynamics, it was PETMAN strutting it's stuff on a moving walkway and doing pushups. Now, the bot's developers and the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) are showing off a robot with a new and terrifying trick: Walking up stairs. But that might just be a glimpse of what will be coming in the future.
Boston Dynamics, the robot-building company that brought you BigDog and PetMan, is showing off another DARPA-funded robot project called Sand Flea. While Sand Flea normally just tools around close to the ground like your standard remote control car, when it meets an obstacle it rears back and fires a piston against the ground. This shoots Sand Flea some 30 feet into the air, landing safely on the other side. Who needs stairs when you can just launch over 'em?
Careful readers will notice that the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) has a thing for robotic animals. While those were impressive in their own right, none of them were particularly quick off the mark -- until now. Working with Boston Dynamics, the maker of BigDog, DARPA has produced a robot called Cheetah that can run at speeds up to 18 miles per hour, completely shattering the 1989 legged robot speed record of 13.1 miles per hour.
You've been unnerved by BigDog, the creepy headless quadraped that Boston Dynamics is developing for DARPA; now meet PETMAN, the creepy headless humanoid robot that Boston Dynamics plans to deliver to the U.S. Army next year.
Though currently still in the prototype stage, this incredible biped can run 4.4 miles per hour, has a full range of motion that mimics the human body, and auto-corrects is balance, all within a frame similar to that of a human. But the final version of the robot will pack even more features, including a head, weight at a mere 180 pounds -- analogous to a typical human male, and capable of mimicing perspiration and changes in skin temperature. Considering all that, the $26.3 million in seed money it took to get PETMAN on his feet seems like small potatoes.
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. In the meantime, read on below for a video of AlphaDog in action.