When science fiction becomes real: unleash the robot cheetahs!

Posted by: Phineas on March 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm

**Posted by Phineas

Some of the neatest stuff comes out of the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) — like this Internet thingy we’re playing with. Much of their work –that they tell us about– involves robotics, “intelligent” machines that can be sent into dangerous areas both to spare human soldiers the risk and to extend their capabilities. Wired has story on the progress toward developing, get this, a robot cheetah:

Perhaps you thought the four-legged BigDog robot wasn’t eerily lifelike enough. That’ll change soon. BigDog’s makers are working on a new quadruped that moves faster than any human and is agile enough to “chase and evade.”

Boston Dynamics, maker of the Army’s BigDog robotic mule, announced today that Darpa has awarded it a contract to build a much faster and more fearsome animal-like robot, Cheetah.

As the name implies, Cheetah is designed to be a four-legged robot with a flexible spine and articulated head (and potentially a tail) that runs faster than the fastest human. In addition to raw speed, Cheetah’s makers promise that it will have the agility to make tight turns so that it can “zigzag to chase and evade” and be able to stop on a dime.

Cheetah builds off work on the company’s previous four legged animal bot, BigDog. It was built as a kind of unmanned pack mule, designed to carry equipment for troops on the battlefield. The robotic donkey could carry 300 lbs. over 13 miles on flat ground, take a swift kick and keep on moving. It’s creepy, lifelike movement can be seen on a number of videos online, climbing over hills and snow and hiking alongside soldiers, using GPS coordinates as its waypoints.

They talk about non-military applications, of course*, but, come on. Who didn’t smile at the prospect of unleashing robotic cheetahs that can run faster than a human on the Taliban?

LINKS: An earlier post on our coming Space Marine force. I’m also quite interested in powered exoskeletons, which are a precursor to full-blown powered armor. As I like to say, “We have all the best toys!”

*To keep the progressives happy, y’know. They’re sensitive like that.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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One Response to “When science fiction becomes real: unleash the robot cheetahs!”

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  1. camojack says:

    I’m interested in powered exoskeletons too; I was actually contemplating a post on them at my blog…if I ever put another one on there, that is.