Boston Dynamics Takes WildCat Outside

wildcat

[Boston Dynamics] has released a video of their latest robot, which means it’s time to go hide in bed before this thing comes to get us. The new video features WildCat, which is apparently the evolution of the Cheetah robot we saw last year. Cheetah was an indoor cat, tethered by power, data, and hydraulic lines while running on a treadmill. WildCat has been released to terrorize people explore the great outdoors

Reminiscent of the early videos of BigDog, WildCat is currently powered by an internal combustion engine. The engine drives a hydraulic system, which then actuates the robot’s legs and front/rear pods. The beauty of a system like this is that switching to an electric motor is simple – just replace the IC engine. While we’re sure this would make a much more stealthy cat, weight and run time could be issues. Moving the power system onboard has also slowed down WildCat a bit. Cheetah was able to reach 28 MPH while WildCat can only muster 16 MPH.

WildCat is part of DARPA’s maximum mobility and manipulation program. The research appears to be focused on improving the gaits the robot uses to move at various speeds. The video highlights both bounding and galloping.  Slo-mo sections show all four of WildCat’s legs leaving the ground, which is the suspension phase of a classic gallop gait. Control isn’t perfect yet, as WildCat tumbles at one point in the video.  It gets right back up though – ready for more.

[Read more...]

BigDog throwing cinder blocks

bigdog-throwing-cinder-blocks

It’s as if giving cheetah-like speed to an advanced robot wasn’t good enough. The engineers over at Boston Dynamics must have been thinking to themselves, how can we make this thing even more menacing? The answer seems to be adding a highly dexterous articulated arm that gives the robot the ability to chuck objects as heavy as cinder blocks. We’re not kidding, look at the image above and you’ll see one mid-flight in the upper left. A quick search tells us that block probably weighs 30 pounds!

BigDog is a research project for the US military that we’ve seen navigating all kinds of terrain. It’s a heavy lifter able to carry loads where other machinery cannot. But now they’ve added an appendage that reminds us of an elephant’s trunk. It branches off of BigDog’s body where a quadruped’s neck would be. At the end of the appendage is a gripper that looks much like what you’d seen on industrial assembly robots. But enough talk, click through to see the action video. Oh, and if you didn’t pick up on the cheetah reference we made earlier you’ll want to check out this post.

[Read more...]

Cheetah robot can run down even the fastest of us

It’s a blur, but you really don’t want to seen this thing coming for you anyway. It’s the latest look at what the folks at Boston Dynamics have been working on under a DARPA contract. They call it the Cheetah robot as it’s the fastest four-legged bot ever developed. The clip after the break shows it breaking the world record over 100 meters… for a human. This isn’t really legitimate since the run is done on a treadmill and the robot is tethered. But it’s still impressive scary.

The Cheetah is a relative of BigDog, another Boston Dynamics robot which we’ve seen several times in the past. BigDog specializes in lifting heavy loads and traversing rough terrain. We don’t think it will be too long before both traits can be “bred” into one device. A lot of times when we feature these robots there are comments about how they invoke images from The Terminator movies. For us this is more along [Michael Bay's] vision of robots from the Transformers series. It certainly not small enough or fast enough to be seen as an early version of the Rat Thing.

[Read more...]

New BigDog video doesn’t fail to impress

Those following the evolution of quadrupedal assist robots will recognize the specimen seen above as a relative of BigDog. This is AlphaDog, one of the latest prototypes in Boston Dynamics’ Legged Squadron Support Systems program. It’s designed to carry 400 pounds of payload, which explains the disc weights seen on either side of the torso. Like its diminutive sibling, LittleDog, it’s able to take on all kinds of terrain. Here it’s being tested with boxes full of rocks.

The robot is capable of picking itself up and getting under way again without intervention. The first video after the break shows test footage where the robot starts nearly upside-down and has no trouble righting itself again. When we looked in on a biped version back in 2009 we also linked to the BigDog prototype which showed developers trying to tip it over mid stride. This version has the same balance resiliency.

Also embedded after the break is a video showing the evolution of the design over about seven years of development.

[Read more...]

BigDog’s bipedal brother

Boston Dynamics is at it again. This time, they’ve created a creepy biped with a natural gait. It may look very similar to BigDog, because it really is almost the same system. Named PETMAN, this biped system is being designed to help test chemical protection suits. This bot can stress the suit by walking, running, and even crawling in a room filled with poison gas. Not only can PETMAN walk, run, and crawl, but it can also sweat and change its temperature.  That’s pretty cool. Like BigDog, the most impressive part is when they give it a shove and it recovers with a motion that seems almost organic.

Poor exhausted littledog

This video of littledog doing some terrain navigaion excersizes is just hilarious. We really don’t have any technological updates since last time we mentioned him, but you should watch the video anyway. [Evan] at botjunkie pointed out how tired littledog must be to absolutely collapse at the end of each run. We started out thinking that his comment was humorous, but the bot is obviously going into a tidy configuration for carrying. As we watched, we saw that [Evan] seemed very correct. Littlebot completely collapses at the end of each run, toward the end of the video, it doesn’t even bother to fold up nicely, sprawling out in a very lifelike pose of utter exhaustion. We don’t know if this is intentional, but we think it should be.

Little dog

Dating back to September of 2007, this certainly isn’t new news, but its new to us. This is Little dog, the miniature version of the ever so creepy Big Dog. We aren’t sure if the lack of Big dogs signature jogging in place makes this little guy seem more lifelike or less.  Little dog was designed to be a research platform into study automated navigation of natural terrain. We wouldn’t mind having one of these around the office, though we would have to add some kind of a head or face to give it some character.

[via Bot Junkie]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,520 other followers