By Mark Frauenfelder at 10:09 am Thu, Sep 6, 2012
[Video Link] Eric Weinhoffer says: "Boston Dynamics have improved their Cheetah bot. It can now run faster than 28 mph, and still doesn't have a head. They push it to the limit at the 55 second point."
Hopefully we don’t come to dread the sound of those speeding towards us as we flee our robot oppressors.
Boston Dynamics makes some very cool stuff. You should watch their other youtube videos. You’ve probably seen the ‘Big Dog’ robot from years ago, but for pure ‘this wouldn’t be so creepy if I hadn’t watched those 80’s sci fi movies’, I recommend Petman:
Ha… I love the blue glow inside it’s chest when it turns slightly, very Ironmanesque
Man, that robot’s got swagger. Like a pimp strut. That’s what keeps it from being creepy in my opinion. If it were just a precise bipedal runner, or walked without strutting, I’d be terrified.
Urban swerve. via Phil Hendrie
That last part should have “Stayin’ Alive” playing.
Somehow I don’t think this video will help me sleep any easier at night.
It’s like we totally need these things for… “saving lives” umm…
Whose lives, I wonder?
Somehow I don’t think this video will help me sleep any easier at night.
Well, it’s not as insomniogenic as that little face Mitt video.
But does it transform?
It turns into a gigantic cassette tape, but that hardly makes it any less conspicuous.
I’m going to have robot nightmares tonight.
“It didn’t have a head! IT DIDN’T HAVE A HEAD!”
When the production models come out they’ll have superfluous heads attached just to give naive humans a false target to aim for.
Shoot it in the ass (“Texas heart shot”)
Don’t worry. They’re only deploy these against targets they have a provisional warrant against, subject to careful review by the REDACTED court within five months REDACTED terrorism, REDACTED narcotics smuggling, suspected abortion providers or REDACTED REDACTED
why are humans helping skynet?!?!
Because we secretly hate ourselves and wouldn’t welcome anything with greater joy than our long-overdue demise, maybe?
Wait until you can assemble those things on one of those fancy 3D printers.
Getting paid is pretty important.
At the end you see there’s some huge cheating going on: that huge stabilizing bar that prevents any lateral slipping. And here I was almost out the door to build up a cache of weapons and food. Don’t I feel silly now…
Quite a deal-breaker, isn’t it? But the real bugger is somewhat less obvious, even if it’s right there, in the plain sight: this bunch power-cables at the top. I wonder how much electricity it takes to make this thing run that fast – I’m quite sure no contemporary battery would supply it for more than a few moment. Even more like a cheetah then – a short sprint and a whole day of lying in the grass afterwards. Sleeping, or gathering rust – respectively.
Yes, it would be far more impressive if it had onboard power and wouldn’t fall over without a boom arm. Overall I liked the epic “slinky on a treadmill” better.
Here’s their Big Dog
It’s not fast, but it seems pretty stable.
My guess is that until they get it running up to its design speed, the engineers aren’t even going to think about letting it run untethered– too much of a safety hazard. As for internal power– it’s a lot of wasted effort if the engineers decide that the ballast, which would be in the form of fuel tanks, generators, etc) needs to be adjusted.
Once the gait is perfected, then the engineers can think about autonomy.
Great video. The way it self-corrected when given a huge shove seemed so familiar, and non-machine-like.
I for one welcome our BigDog overlords.
SKYNET IS COMING FOR YOU as long as you remain within range of its 6′ stabilizing arm and 10′ power cord. And as long as we keep extension cord technology out of its hands.
You’re missing the reality – those cables are not the power source, they’re the heat sink.
Further validating the below comment for Rat Things.
I don’t think the power source is too bad of a kludge. So, they’ve omitted the 10-20 pounds a lawn mower engine would add. Does that absence of weight interfere with their proof of concept?
With the boom arm kludge, they’re essentially only showing that they can make it run in 1 dimension. The complexity of mastering movement in the other 2 is still yet to be demonstrated.
I’ll bet there’s a wealth of complex fine-tuned servos in just keeping it from falling over when not moving. Which would interfere with, or tend to get damaged, when it’s in full-out sprint mode. (Just my uneducated guess.)
The goals of the project are more or less “run at cheetah speeds”. They’ll need years of work for unconstrained movement even after it achieves that speed.
Also, i seem to recall that like Big Dog, if it tried to stand still it would topple over.
Tethering is pretty standard when you’re designing a platform that’s super dynamic, i.e. huge power draw for whatever action. tethers also let you reduce the weight of the robot by obviating the need for a huge, heavy battery. which, for a lightweight robot like this, is crucial.
Safety’s less of an issue. The stabilizing bar keeps the engineers from heartattacks as a 4 million $ platform steps onto a treadmill. Most research projects for mobile robots (particularly legged ones) require some sort of gantry support because the engineers are more concerned with proving the concept and then making it the slickest thing that runs on electricity. You don’t build a good ‘bot by trying to design the finished model right away. Give it a year or two and it’ll be more impressive.
Also, MIT got funding for the same project. Their cheetah is a little sexier.
Probably just rejigger the layout of the plutonium in Curiosity’s RTG radioisotope thermoelectric generator power plant so it’s running quite a bit bit more hot (but needs to be replaced more often – like say, every 18 months instead of 24 years) and you’ve got something that can scoot around the battlefield all day long. Actually Neil Stephenson suggests something very similar in his book Snow Crash.
Hasn’t this been on BoingBoing before? I swear I didn’t dream it.
At the risk of downplaying a great achievement, hasn’t a tremendous amount of time, money and research gone into creating a robotic cheetah that DOESN’T GO HALF AS FAST AS A REAL CHEETAH? Seems to me we need to start plumbing the depths of big-cat mind control here folks.
And real cheethahs don’t need stabilizer bars either.
It used to only go about a third as fast as a cheetah. Baby steps.
Or not, given that it’s gotten that much faster in less than a year – how long did it take for the ancestral cat to evolve into something that could go 70mph on bursts?
Imagine how much faster this will be when it actually flexes its knees…
It goes twice as fast as a similarly sized dog? 28mph is faster than most people will ever ride their bicycle, and faster than a human can sprint. They’ve achieved this speed sustained. As long as it’s faster than the rate of urban traffic, it’s fast enough for most military convoys.
If this graphic that somebody just posted on reddit is correct, that’s even faster than Usain Bolt:
This reminds me of the Mechanical Hound from Fahrenheit 451! Does it have hypodermic needles secreted in its steely jaws?
I was thinking it was more like the Rat Thing from Snow Crash.
Stephenson directly credited the hounds from 451 as inspiration for the Rat Thing
Where’s Serious Sam when you need him?
they need to tighten some bolts. At 0:13-0:14 a part goes flying
For some reason that makes me think of Dick Cheney.
It times like this that remind me that we really ARE living in the future. Truly amazing.
“They sent a slamhound on Turner’s trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair. It caught up with him on a street called Chandni Chauk and came scrambling for his rented BMW through a forest of bare brown legs and pedicab tires.”
Its strange that Gibson’s early books are coming true.
Why Mitt dreams of cold fusion conducted electricity, or whatever?
I think this quote from the BBC News writeup sums it up nicely:
Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, said the robot was “an incredible technical achievement, but it’s unfortunate that it’s going to be used to kill people”.
Does Sharkey have a car or a microwave? Those are used to kill people too. It’s unfortunate that he’s enjoying military technology.
Genuine, non-sarcastic question: Has anyone created a quadrupedal robot that can switch gaits from walk to canter to trot to gallop?
The issue I see with the cheetah-bot is that it can only gallop.
I could live with the brainless, harnessed bot if they could show me an autonomous gait change as the treadmill speed changes.
The point of the project is just to achieve those speeds, not get there gracefully. I don’t think there’s a robot the size of LS3 (that’s Big Dog) that can walk on non-static surfaces. Even if it were just trying to stay upright on the treadmill, this is no small feat. It looks slightly unimpressive to the lay audience because the sophistication of the underlying tech is taken for granted.
The development of the MENSCHENJÄGER MARK ELF continues apace …
All I was thinking the whole time was “ME WANT COOKIE CRISP!”
Complaining about the stabilizing arm is the same as saying I wish they had not shown this to me until it was further along. Not much of a complaint really. Just don’t look if you can’t stand unfinished.
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