Makers of infamous BigDog robot unveil human version - PETMAN (w/ video)

Nov 01, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

(PhysOrg.com) -- Uh oh. Boston Dynamics, makers of the BigDog robot that can haul stuff around for the military has released a video of PETMAN, a human version that looks like a combination of the Terminator and a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica. Maybe even scarier is the fact that it walks like John Wayne; just enough attitude to let you know he's not someone to be messed with.

Interestingly, the robot wasn’t made to scare anyone, or even to go into battle. It was designed to mimic the way human soldiers move so as to test army clothes for use in hazardous environments, i.e. chemical warfare. In addition to moving like a human being, it also simulates breathing and sweats when made to do a lot of work, like running and doing pushups. Because of its purpose, the engineers at Boston Dynamics haven’t yet completed a neck and head, which means PETMAN (Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin) has nothing on his shoulders but a blinking red light. And speaking of lights. He, or it, also has an eerie blue glow going on behind his chest plate. Not sure why, but it absolutely adds to the scariness of the big guy.

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PETMAN is just under six feet tall, and weighs close to 180 pounds, which is what you get if you average the height and weight of the average human American soldier. He’s also tethered, which softens the fear factor a bit, but not really all that much when it is recalled that BigDog was tethered when first seen on video too.

was founded by some really smart people from MIT, and it’s funding for most of its projects such as this one ($26.3 million) come from the U.S. Defense Department, e.g. DARPA. And while the DoD maintains that it’s reason for paying for the creation of PETMAN is to test uniforms, it’s hardly likely that it’s interest will remain there indefinitely as it’s hard to ignore the emotional reaction that most people experience upon viewing the video. Seeing it in person, weaponized, on the battlefield, likely would inspire a new level of terror in enemy combatants and could conceivably lead to changes in the ways unconventional wars are fought. Just as is happening already with drones.

Despite the video, the days of warriors are still a ways off, but PETMAN will have other uses likely much sooner. Spokespeople for the company say it could also be used to assist in search and rescue operations in hazardous environments such as what was encountered in the Fukushima disaster. PETMAN is scheduled to be delivered to the Army some time next year.


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More information: www.bostondynamics.com/robot_petman.html

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User comments : 39

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NotAsleep
4.8 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2011
The only thing that prevents us from having robot warriors is a good power supply...
Eikka
3.3 / 5 (13) Nov 01, 2011
The only thing that prevents us from having robot warriors is a good power supply...


Plus the fact that robots are really fragile. All it takes is a little bit of sand in the gears, or a blown-out O-ring on a piston and it's done. The leg goes limp; the robot falls over helpless.

People continuously repair the little wear and tear that happens, all the scratches and bumps are nothing. Stub your toe and curse for a bit, and then get on with life. The pain and swelling will subside on its own. But a robot will accumulate even the tiniest bit of chafing and turn it into a problem down the line. Every joint, every motor, every cable and connector is a potential fault just waiting to happen.
Squirrel
1.4 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2011
Eikka is right. Robots are fragile. We see the successful videos but not the ones where they fall down or malfunction. Though humans start walking at around one years of age it takes until adolescence before they have the skill of adults--it is incredibly difficult to be a human shaped biped that can walk, run and combine that with upper body actions such as carrying, gesturing or throwing.
Skultch
1 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2011
The only thing that prevents us from having robot warriors is a good power supply...


Not efficiency? Even taking the PS out of the equation, isn't it still much cheaper to train soldiers? (i agree in principle that we could eventually make it worth it)
Cave_Man
1 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2011
The only thing that prevents us from having robot overlords is a good power supply...


Thank god for that. How long until a small nuclear unit comes out using nano aligned dots of fissile material to produce enough energy to run a tank on a power supply the size of a potato?

I am sure it will happen, especially since fission power produces heat and electricity the heat can be used for hydraulic movement and the electricity for the computer hardware. They just need to put it all together at this point.
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2011
Haha, Cave Man, robot overlords... excellent edit.

All, robots may be "fragile" (which I consider untrue in many circumstances based on real-life situations I've encountered) but they're also capable of interpreting key sensory input under otherwise-stressful circumstances. A sufficiently equipped robot could eliminate enemy snipers before the enemy gets a shot off, something that is already very close to reality in our tanks and personnel carriers.

Equally important, though, is the psychology of war. If I were an enemy facing robots that looked like this, I'd think twice about continuing
rawa1
1.3 / 5 (8) Nov 01, 2011
The only thing that prevents us from having robot warriors is a good power supply...
Do you mean E-cat unit? Such thing could power it for years...
PosterusNeticus
4.4 / 5 (13) Nov 01, 2011
Do you mean E-cat unit? Such thing could power it for years...


Nonsense and gullibility are certainly sources of great energy.
EvilMammoth
not rated yet Nov 01, 2011
Speaking of robots, where is the robot they hired to proofread this thing (its or it's?)? They need to decommission the poor bugger.

A bipedal robot may not be the most reliable or efficient machine in the world, but I have to confess an uncanny valley effect when watching PETMAN, even if we're unlikely to see humanoid armies any time soon.
Eikka
2 / 5 (6) Nov 01, 2011
All, robots may be "fragile" (which I consider untrue in many circumstances based on real-life situations I've encountered)


I should have added "humanoid robots are fragile".

Because you can certainly over-engineer the mechanics to withstand even the grossest abuse. It's just that it won't fit in the same form factor.

With parts the size, weight and shape of human bones, you do get things like stress fractures even in solid steel when you make the thing march mile after mile like people do. The difference is, we rest, we heal. The machine doesn't.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2011
we have tanks and planes. why not turn them into unmanned killing machines.

heck make an army of dragonfly robots with poison darts.
nanotech_republika_pl
not rated yet Nov 01, 2011
kaasinees: you mean transformers?
Vendicar_Decarian
0.5 / 5 (38) Nov 01, 2011
"Do you mean E-cat unit?" - Rawa1

Pity it failed it's last test.
Jeddy_Mctedder
1 / 5 (6) Nov 01, 2011
what wil this look like in 50 years? depends on the financial crisis right now.
Norezar
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2011
Do you mean E-cat unit? Such thing could power it for years...


Nonsense and gullibility are certainly sources of great energy.


Church Powerplants.
robbor
5 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2011
wouldn't it just be easier to fight all our wars in a virtual theater?
jselin
not rated yet Nov 01, 2011
A central gas turbine/generator combo and clever liquid fuel storage throughout the interior could probably work for a reasonable amount of time... maybe they could even seek out liquid fuel while on the move to extend their range.
Deesky
5 / 5 (9) Nov 01, 2011
Am I the only one who thinks that, as they claim, designing a state of the art robotic walking biped just to test soldier uniforms is um...a little far fetched?
Vendicar_Decarian
0.4 / 5 (37) Nov 01, 2011
"wouldn't it just be easier to fight all our wars in a virtual theater?" - robbor

Check out the movie "Surrogate" a great made for TV movie also known as "The Challenge".

http://www.imdb.c.../reviews

Quite good
Eric_B
not rated yet Nov 02, 2011
The robot warriors should suck the piss out of each victim big a big scary needle before killing them!

pee power, power from pee http://www.physor...ity.html
ArtVandelay
1 / 5 (4) Nov 02, 2011
Am I the only one who thinks that, as they claim, designing a state of the art robotic walking biped just to test soldier uniforms is um...a little far fetched?


Exactly what I was thinking.
jselin
not rated yet Nov 02, 2011
Especially since you could just fill the chem suits with articulated mannequins, actuate them externally during the testing and then call it a day haha
plasticpower
not rated yet Nov 02, 2011
Power this thing with a Tesla coil from a command and control center nearby. Problem solved. Sort of..
Vendicar_Decarian
0.9 / 5 (45) Nov 02, 2011
Isn't it interesting that America's robot efforts are oriented toward murdering people, while Japan's efforts are directed toward assisting people and industry?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2011
Vendicar, technology is technology... just because we build something that appears to be war-ready doesn't mean it can't be used for another purpose. Same for Japanese robots. Perhaps when human nature changes then we can expect solely cuddly, helpful robots.

A central gas turbine/generator combo and clever liquid fuel storage throughout the interior could probably work for a reasonable amount of time... maybe they could even seek out liquid fuel while on the move to extend their range.

See "Big Dog" for a four-legged example of exactly that.

we have tanks and planes. why not turn them into unmanned killing machines.

heck make an army of dragonfly robots with poison darts.

Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt. Don't they have UAVs in the netherlands? Yes, we already have dragonfly robots although I'm not sure we've equipped them with poison darts yet...
Ricochet
1 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2011
Am I the only one who thinks that, as they claim, designing a state of the art robotic walking biped just to test soldier uniforms is um...a little far fetched?

I'd like to see how it stands up to Spaceballs The Flamethrower!
PCLabtech
5 / 5 (2) Nov 02, 2011
Since it was designed to model clothes, the future of modeling women's clothing on the runway...

The Devil Wears Pennzoil
Vendicar_Decarian
0.6 / 5 (39) Nov 02, 2011
"my roomate's sister makes $85 an hour on the laptop." - Deloris

If she is nice, she could make much more than than on someone else's laptop.

Send a pic, and I'll give her some leads.

nxtr
not rated yet Nov 05, 2011
beam microwave energy to them.
Isaacsname
not rated yet Nov 05, 2011
It just needs a skinsuit with fake muscle tissue,.....oh...and a head, gotta have a head.

...Alfredo Garcia ?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (11) Nov 05, 2011
It just needs a skinsuit with fake muscle tissue,.....oh...and a head, gotta have a head.

...Alfredo Garcia ?
This guy didn't need a head
http://www.youtub...a_player

-Guess they didn't have comsats back then.
Ensa
not rated yet Nov 06, 2011
Thar embedded video won't play for me.
Here is another link.

http://www.youtub...bVTIYG8E
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (11) Nov 06, 2011
These are the bots that get me
http://www.youtub...a_player

-If they would only scale these things up. Asimo doesn't come close-
Isaacsname
not rated yet Nov 06, 2011
It just needs a skinsuit with fake muscle tissue,.....oh...and a head, gotta have a head.

...Alfredo Garcia ?
This guy didn't need a head
http://www.youtub...a_player

-Guess they didn't have comsats back then.

Rofl, I remember that one.

They need the M.A.R.K. 13 head.

http://www.youtub...qb3W9FIQ
Sin_Amos
not rated yet Nov 06, 2011
FULL SOURCE: ECAT device - runs for 6 months before refueling. What, get with the INFO, peeps. Yes, you would have to increase the robot size until they can shrink the technology, but the future is here.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (11) Nov 06, 2011
It just needs a skinsuit with fake muscle tissue,.....oh...and a head, gotta have a head.

...Alfredo Garcia ?
Rofl, I remember that one.

They need the M.A.R.K. 13 head.


This guy didn't need a head
http://www.youtub...a_player
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (11) Nov 06, 2011
Scratch that. Goddammit.
Rofl, I remember that one.

They need the M.A.R.K. 13 head.
-Missed that one.

I was trying to post these guys above, who are apparently all head (caution - spoiler alert!)
http://www.youtub...a_player
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (11) Nov 06, 2011
FULL SOURCE: ECAT device - runs for 6 months before refueling. What, get with the INFO, peeps. Yes, you would have to increase the robot size until they can shrink the technology, but the future is here.
-Like this big maybe? Perhaps the future was here already-
http://www.youtub...a_player

-ok I'm done.

-I see they solved the impactor problem back in the 50s too - atomic V2s, of course.
jnjnjnjn
1 / 5 (3) Nov 13, 2011
It can't even walk normal. The leg movement should be forward only. It's not efficient to set the feet 'wide' like a skating langlauf movement.
With a battery pack it's one hour max. A human enemy only has to wait a wile.

J.

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