A Nurse with a Gun

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


BigDog is the alpha male of the Boston Dynamics family of robots. It is a quadruped robot that walks, runs, and climbs on rough terrain and carries heavy loads. BigDog is powered by a gasoline engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system. BigDog's legs are articulated like an animal's, and have compliant elements that absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. BigDog is the size of a large dog or small mule, measuring 1 meter long, 0.7 meters tall and 75 kg weight.

BigDog has an on-board computer that controls locomotion, servos the legs and handles a wide variety of sensors. BigDog’s control system manages the dynamics of its behavior to keep it balanced, steer, navigate, and regulate energetics as conditions vary. Sensors for locomotion include joint position, joint force, ground contact, ground load, a laser gyroscope, and a stereo vision system. Other sensors focus on the internal state of BigDog, monitoring the hydraulic pressure, oil temperature, engine temperature, rpm, battery charge and others.

In separate trials, BigDog runs at 4 mph, climbs slopes up to 35 degrees, walks across rubble, and carries a 340 lb load.

BigDog is being developed by Boston Dynamics with the goal of creating robots that have rough-terrain mobility that can take them anywhere on Earth that people and animals can go. The program is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).



Blogger chris horton said...

That thing is pretty cool, and really, really creepy at the same time.

I can't beleive he kicked it and it kept its balance like a human would. Freaky indeed!

8:50 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

I welcome our new robot dog overlords.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Mauser*Girl said...

I agree with Chris - it's both really cool and really creepy. It's very dog-like in the way it moves, so that's sort of unnerving (to me, anyway).

Shame it can't go faster or fetch a stick. ;)

11:53 PM  
Blogger Jerry The Geek said...

Stable, yes, I'll grant that. But the IC engine sounds like a herd of bees.

Looks like two San Francisco Grant Square mimes with a garbage can on their heads.

Other than walking on rubble, what does it do?

2:08 AM  
Anonymous Blackwing1 said...

I've got to say that if I saw that thing coming at me through the woods, my first response would be to run in the opposite direction just as fast as I could. If someone were with me that couldn't run, I'd probably get ready to draw a weapon.

Jumping jeeters, that thing would scare the daylights out of me.

I keep the sound off on my computer, so I didn't hear it. The noise of a gasoline engine coming from it might serve to mitigate the scare factor somewhat, but only a little.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous 1894C said...

Of course a mule would do everything that robot can do. Does not require fuel. And costs a hundred times less.

OF COURSE the US Army would prefer the robot.....

10:54 AM  
Blogger GreatBeefalo said...

Im surprised the engineers decided to put fur (it looks like fur, anyway) on its legs. When dealing with robotics, there is an Ucanny Valley--meaning the closer you bring the robot to being human/mammalian, the more it creeps people out. Just make it look like a freaking robot and leave it at that, I say.

I can definitely see some uses for the machine, though.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Angus lincoln said...

Witness the birth of the Terminator series of robots...very cool!

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

doesn't look like fur to me. i could be wrong, but those look more like canvas wrappings around the legs to keep dirt out of the joints.

and, neat though this is, i'm thinking the main difference between this and a mule is that with this thing there's no mule shit to be cleaned up. it's depressing, but i really think the caretaking needed for animals is the stumbling block nowadays.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gas engine made me think of a buzzing housefly, creeping along.

Still, it would be cool to incorporate this technology for space missions to Mars or the Moon. Looks like it would handle rough terrain better than wheeled vehicles.

Its movements seem more mule-like than dog-like to me...

Still, a few up close 12 ga. slugs would put it down, or a few well placed .50 cal rounds from a distance.

9:07 AM  
Blogger phlegmfatale said...

chris horton said what I thought - creepy but really cool. Loved seeng it leap like a deer.

10:04 PM  

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