Now Boston Dynamics' BigDog can lift and toss (w/ video)

Mar 03, 2013 by Nancy Owano report

(Phys.org) —Boston Dynamics' DARPA-funded robotic dog has been upgraded with added functions for military support in hauling gear on rough terrain, Its new appendage is called various things—a "kind of head," a "face-arm," and a "canine elephant trunk." Whatever the terminology, BigDog has a new appendage to its torso that resembles a head. Boston Dynamic's goal of increasing versatility of roles took a page from movements by human athletes. They use the strength of their legs and torso to help power their arm actions. Likewise, Boston Dynamics is giving BigDog an enhanced ability to rely on its entire body for throwing heavy objects around, with an appendage powerful enough to lift and throw the objects aside.

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As a BigDog video shows, the entire body goes to work with fancy step-work to throw fifty-pound objects over its shoulder, grasping a block with "jaws" and flinging it out of the way. The idea is to make BigDog successfully cope with heavy objects that need to be hurled out of the way.

BigDog is the "alpha male" of the robots, a robot that walks, runs, climbs and carries heavy loads.

BigDog is the size of a large dog or small mule; about 3 feet long, 2.5 feet tall and weighs 240 lbs. The grasp-and-toss enhancement follows a number of feats accomplished by this robot. BigDog can run at four miles per hour, walk across the roughest terrain, make its way through mud and snow (its four legs are articulated like an animal's, with compliant elements to recycle energy from one step to the next). The robot carries 300-plus pound loads. According to Boston Dynamics, covered 12.8 miles without stopping or refueling, setting a world record for legged vehicles.

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Lurker2358
1 / 5 (11) Mar 03, 2013
First of all I'll say the engineering is impressive, and this should find uses eventually in the civilian sector in search and rescue, where heavier machinery isn't always practical. It would also be very impressive for some bomb removal operations.

However, what gives me the creeps is that with this new addition, the "Big Dog" is looking even more like the plague in the book of Revelation, as it now has a prehensile "tail," just like the "serpent headed tail" on the "horses" in the plague.

You may call this a coincidence, maybe it is an inevitable, unavoidable form for a small mech walker in the practical world, but the resemblance is becoming uncanny nonetheless. The only thing it lacks now is a gun or rocket launcher for "fire".

Sadly, the book of Revelation happens to be one of the books of the Bible that I actually hope to be false/contaminated, so it does not give me any satisfaction to see this THING potentially being the fulfillment of the "plague" of which I am referring.
Lurker2358
1.2 / 5 (10) Mar 03, 2013
yeah, the passage says their power was in their heads and in their tails, which were like serpents, and the tails had the power to "hurt" and (kill men).

Clearly, this machine could massacre human beings even without projectile weapons. An arm that powerful could crush your skull or spine in one hit, or just grab you and squeeze you to death. While that may not be the most practical use for it, and it could clearly be countered relatively easily by fit, trained troops, this is not the final version.

Given it's primary mission is military all terrain transport, I fully expect the final version to be armed with partially oriented machine guns or small rocket launchers...maybe even cutting or targeting lasers as well...

...because if it's going to be carrying your ammo and heavy weapons, why not just go ahead and arm it with weapons of it's own...that's the next step...
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (8) Mar 03, 2013
Now the "Head" would most logically be an orientable turret,w ith weapons (perhaps one anti-vehicle weapon and one anti-infantry weapon,) and additional sensor packages.

Our military is either building "Voltron" or they are building the Sixth Trumpet of the Apocalypse.

Bio-mimicry. It seems practical, and practical things eventually converge to as close to "ideal" as physically possible, therefore we converge on the horse-like or lion-like beast of the 5th and 6th trumpet, because it's a practical shape, and with a few generations worth of refinement, well...look at nature, this form is one of the most successful in nature.

Perhaps any mystical interpretation of these plagues is false, and it's simply a practical convergence of military technology. The author was actually describing, potentially, a man-made killing machine...If not this generation or this version, perhaps a near- future version...

It also reminds me of DaVinci's idealized killing machine sketches...
tkjtkj
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 03, 2013
Yes, arm them, and then place 3000 of them on the battlefield .. all stumbling about with no 'prime directive' ..

creepy? it's not the future any more ...
VendicarE
1.6 / 5 (5) Mar 03, 2013
America needs more killing machines like this for civilian riot control for cities like Detroit, and states like Texas and Florida.
TehDog
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2013
Don't forget, this is just a development platform, much like the flying bedstead http://en.wikiped...ring_Rig
That evolved into the Harrier, and I expect BigDog will take a similar course. I can envision some quite scary stuff that could even be done today, especially given the advances in self driving vehicles with their "target" acquisition systems.
FrankHerbertWhines
2 / 5 (4) Mar 03, 2013
VendiTARDEE speaks......no one listens
Mayday
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2013
I see this going in two directions (no pun). Miniaturization toward a small and extremely agile weapons platform. With arms that can grasp and climb, in addition to throw. If it can get light enough, let it fly, too. And I see it getting large -- the size of a large house, for real cargo delivery over tough terrain. We will all benefit from the power source technologies that will power these things. But remember, you must never ever look one in the eye.
evropej
3 / 5 (4) Mar 03, 2013
I can see why they would want this feature. If it was going through a dense area with debris in its way, it could remove it and continue on its mission. This is some impressive technology and I hope they continue to advance it.
ValeriaT
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2013
..the only thing it lacks now is a gun or rocket launcher for "fire".
? This is a good idea. I think, they should start work on it..
VendicarE
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2013
The Conservative whiner must have.

"VendiTARDEE speaks......no one listens" - HerbertWhines

His response is a contradiction to his own response.
VendicarE
2 / 5 (4) Mar 03, 2013
The question is... Which side will deploy these killing machines against the other side in America's coming civil war?

Will it be the Democrats? Or will it be the Traitors?
Egleton
1 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2013
Or will it be every nation on the planet?
VendicarE
1 / 5 (2) Mar 03, 2013
America get's it's ass kicked in every military conflict.

"Or will it be every nation on the planet?" - Egleton

Just look at it's latest failure in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The world is laughing.
gwrede
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 04, 2013
I hate it when people laugh at just any stupid video. I never do. But this time, I laughed out aloud!! Man, that Bigdog is becoming one son of a bitch!! Damn!

These guys are really at it, like 24 hours developing. Can't help but wonder what it will do in 18 months.

T1, beware!!
TransmissionDump
5 / 5 (2) Mar 04, 2013
Instead of tossing all those concrete blocks away and smashing them surely they could program it to build a barbecue.
grondilu
1 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2013
I can see why they would want this feature. If it was going through a dense area with debris in its way, it could remove it and continue on its mission.

Not sure. The very point of having legs is to be able to walk through a terrain with debris like this.
evropej
1 / 5 (2) Mar 04, 2013
I can see why they would want this feature. If it was going through a dense area with debris in its way, it could remove it and continue on its mission.

Not sure. The very point of having legs is to be able to walk through a terrain with debris like this.


I dont think it can jump that high yet, think of a tree in itch path or any object it might not like. Or even lifting a wounded soldier and carrying them to safety. The possibilities are endless.
QuixoteJ
1 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2013
So this is what one of our robot overlords will look like... Luckily this stuff will remain relatively impractical in my lifetime. I hope. I'm studying the video for the thing's weaknesses instead of being impressed by the technology. Initial advice for running away from one of these things: swampland or deep snow.

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