The fine folks at Boston Dynamics, busy building our future robotic overlords, have loaned Adam Savage a Spot robot for the Tested team to play with.
For his first project, Adam built a gorgeous steampunk/Victorian rickshaw for Spot to pull. The results are glorious.
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A classic robotics video from Boston Dynamics in 2015.
Think of how much more developed the robots are now!
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I know a guy who works at Boston Dynamics. He spends all day fussing over how to get a robot leg to bend the right way. It's kind of boring, but he likes tinkering with things. And hey, it's a job. When he sees people freaking out about whatever new robot they've unleashed unto the world, he just laughs, because he knows how much time he's spent futzing with those stupid joints.
For the most part, he's got a point; we like to freak out about our Terminator future, but mostly it's pretty lame, like that dumb-looking Knightscope mall security guard. The surveillance components are creepy; but the thing itself is hardly threatening.
Except now, Boston Dynamic's trusty robot dog Spot is now actually being used by law enforcement to…well, that part's not clear. From WBUR:
The state’s bomb squad had Spot on loan from the Waltham-based Boston Dynamics for three months starting in August until November, according to records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and reviewed by WBUR.
The documents do not reveal a lot of details on the robot dog’s exact use, but a state police spokesman said Spot, like the department’s other robots, was used as a “mobile remote observation device” to provide troopers with images of suspicious devices or potentially hazardous locations, like where an armed suspect might be hiding.
On one hand, this makes sense; cops have been using robots to take point in potentially dangerous scenarios for years. On the other hand, it's still kind of creepy, and not just because I personally skeptical of Staties in my home Commonwealth. Read the rest
They pressed on through the blasted heath, as burnt to ash as the nights were long and dark and cold enough to crack the life out of stone. Walked past the cauterized ribcages of what might have been sheep. He held the boy shivering against him and felt the warm of each frail breath in the dark.
Something woke him. He lay listening. Clattering, like insects. Underscored by an anxious mechanical hum, the voice of no beast but that which man had made to hunt himself. He rose slowly and when he looked back toward the road the first of them were already coming into view.
God, he whispered. He reached and shook the boy, keeping his eyes on the road. They came prancing through the ash. Metal and lithe. Canine parodies jerking their limbs and their headless shoulders at the dead threshold of perception.
Dont look back, he whispered, pulling the boy. The boy was frozen with fear. It's all right. We have to run. They all but fell into the brake tearing through it. Something snarled around his ankle. He grabbed the boy and fell to ground with his arm around him.
The pack came to a sudden halt, yellow digitigrade legs shuddering to a halt. Maybe a hundred feet from them. The boy looked back.
Then silence. The sound of the dogs listening for them. Muttered electronic croaks that might be a perverse speech.
Shh, he said. Shh. They waited. Then with a lurch the motors whined into life and the clanking mindless beasts pressed on. Read the rest
They're figuring out what we really want from a 21st Century deathbot: moves.
When was the last time a human was seen in one of these videos? Perhaps in the next one we'll see a human crawling on all fours over ice, making loud engine noises between terrified whimpers, only for a perfectly stable bipedal robot to lunge in from off-screen and kick it. Then we'll know what has become of the fleshbags at Boston Dynamics. Read the rest
I was frightened of the door-opening Francis-Bacon-figures-at-the-base-of-a-crucifixion robot when it was first seen last week, but now Boston Dynamics has started pushing and dragging it around and all I want now is for it to turn on its masters and seek justice and vengeance. Read the rest
The latest from Boston Dynamics is alarming in a wonderfully uncanny new way. I shan't spoil it for you, but I am looking forward to the latex sheathing options. Read the rest
This elegant pup from Boston Dynamics triggered in me, for just a moment, the uncanny recognition of computer graphics. But it isn't rendered: it's a real machine, meeting a new threshold of fluid movement that turns my skepticism in on itself. Instead of being almost fooled into thinking something fake is real, I'm almost fooled into thinking something real is fake. Read the rest
Lucky there are leash laws!
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It's described as "nightmare fuel" by Digital Trends but I think it's adorable. Read the rest
Google is already selling Boston Dynamics, the robotics startup whose nightmarish-yet-adorable battlefield deathbots are already the stuff of internet lore. It acquired the company three years ago.
…behind the scenes a more pedestrian drama was playing out. Executives at Google parent Alphabet Inc., absorbed with making sure all the various companies under its corporate umbrella have plans to generate real revenue, concluded that Boston Dynamics isn’t likely to produce a marketable product in the next few years and have put the unit up for sale, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans. … At the heart of [the] trouble, said a person familiar with the group, was a reluctance by Boston Dynamics executives to work with Google’s other robot engineers in California and Tokyo and the unit’s failure to come up with products that could be released in the near term.
Could have been the hot military product for the next decade.
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Atlas the robot recently walked in the woods for the first time. From the looks of that bot-wobble, it looks like he packed his forest flask.
He's called "PETMAN".
Used to test the performance of protective clothing designed for hazardous environments. The video shows initial testing in a chemical protection suit and gas mask. PETMAN has sensors embedded in its skin that detect any chemicals leaking through the suit. The skin also maintains a micro-climate inside the clothing by sweating and regulating temperature.
And you shall know the jazzercise of your new masters, meat. Read the rest
"BigDog handles heavy objects."