BigDog Quadruped Robot Update

BostonDynamics' BigDog quadruped robot is an advanced prototype under development for DARPA. The robot walks, runs and climbs on rough terrain (including mud and snow). Once BigDog is ready for field duty, it will help soldiers carry the many pounds of equipment needed in modern warfare. A typical load for a field solder is 65+ pounds; BigDog has so far carried 120 pounds. The robot itself is the size of a large dog, and weighs 75 kg.

(BigDog with packs)

BigDog's legs are articulated like an animal's; it has compliant elements that absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. Its onboard computer controls locomotion and a variety of sensors. 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.

(BigDog quadruped robot from BostonDynamics)

Roboticists are making good progress on Ray Bradbury's mechanical hound, one of my favorite pieces of technovelgy from Fahrenheit 451:

Nights when things got dull, which was every night, the men slid down the brass poles, and set the ticking combinations of the olfactory system of the hound and let loose rats in the fire house areaway. Three seconds later the game was done, the rat caught half across the areaway, gripped in gentle paws while a four-inch hollow steel needle plunged down from the proboscis...
(Read more about Ray Bradbury's mechanical hound)

Read our earlier articles (Bradbury's Mechanical Hound and DARPA's BigDog Robot and DARPA's 'Big Dog' Robot Now In Puppy Stage). Check out the BostonDynamics BigDog page.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/6/2006)

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