Print 27 comment(s) - last by Jeffk464.. on Sep 18 at 12:48 AM

  (Source: DARPA)
Robot will see testing "in the field" next year

For those who fear that one day our robotic contraptions may turn on us, this is very bad news.

The U.S. Military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has paired with Boston Dynamics to create the "cheetah bot", a headless robot that could one day stalk enemies on the battlefield.

The robot has been steadily progressing through treadmill testing.  It recently surpassed the world's fastest human -- six-time Olympic gold-medalist Usain Bolt.  Mr. Bolt had set a high mark for humans at 27.78 miles per hour for his fastest 20 meter split.  But the cheetah bot easily blew by that at 28.3 mph.

In other words, running from this killing machine when it one day hits the battlefield may not be an option.

Fortunately, the tech is a long way from being battle-ready.  While field tests on natural terrain are planned for next year, researchers are still working to perfect the robot's balancing algorithms and come up with an alternative to the current power source -- an off-board hydraulic pump.

Gill Pratt, DARPA program manager, is bullish these obstacles can be overcome, stating, "Cheetahs happen to be beautiful examples of how natural engineering has created speed and agility across rough terrain. Our Cheetah bot borrows ideas from nature’s design to inform stride patterns, flexing and unflexing of parts like the back, placement of limbs and stability. What we gain through Cheetah and related research efforts are technological building blocks that create possibilities for a whole range of robots suited to future Department of Defense missions."

A DARPA press release suggests the cheetah robot could one day be used for "emergency response, humanitarian assistance, and other defense missions".  It's up to our imaginations what those "other defense missions" might include, but it's likely they're not exactly pacifistic.

The good news?  The robotic war-dog is still much slower than a real life cheetah, which can run at up to 61 mph.

A minor aside -- the robot bears an eerie similarity to the robotic "greyhounds" in Absolut Vodka's commercial, which features beats from the Swedish House Mafia.  

Perhaps the advertisers were inspired by the DARPA program?

Sources: DARPA, YouTube

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Reinventing the wheel?
By Jeffk464 on 9/17/2012 11:33:52 AM , Rating: 3
Whatever happened to wheels or tracks, don't see the big advantage for this type of thing. Personally I would rather pay less tax and reduce the government's focus on making war with everybody.

RE: Reinventing the wheel?
By Misty Dingos on 9/17/2012 12:31:56 PM , Rating: 4
Tracks and wheels have real limitations. When these types of robots become more than test beds and prototypes you will see them jump over walls, run up stairs, climb trees.

The intent of these concept machines is to place the robot with the EMT/war fighter/police/fire fighter. It goes where he goes. It goes as fast as he does or faster. And it hauls its own weight.

Try to remember that you didn't want to do this kind of research if a robot derived from this technology pulls you out of a burning building someday, then thank god that someone with greater vision than you thought otherwise.

And it isn't all about making war with everybody. Which I will point out to you is an asinine statement. I can't think of a single government on the planet that wants to do that. If you want to talk about the current wars the USofA is involved in. Well that is a mess that might lead to a larger regional conflict but it is hardly EVERYBODY. Let's try to keep the hand wringing down if we can.

RE: Reinventing the wheel?
By Jeffk464 on 9/17/2012 12:46:15 PM , Rating: 4
Our current wars are wars of choice. The correct way to fight terrorists is what we are doing in Yemen. You use CIA, special ops, and drone strikes. You don't invade and control a country where 95% of the population isn't involved.

RE: Reinventing the wheel?
By Reclaimer77 on 9/17/2012 1:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
Bypassing your idiotic view on the current conflict, wouldn't this technology have potential to aide in those "special ops" you mentioned?

I just don't agree that this research is completely useless and couldn't lead to anything. You're totally closed minded to it just because the "military" is vaguely involved.

RE: Reinventing the wheel?
By TSS on 9/17/2012 5:56:39 PM , Rating: 1
Oh sure leave it to the CIA. They've done such good work in the past. I'm sure those drone strikes aren't creating any hatred what so ever, and only confirmed bad guys die.

The way to fight terrorists is to leave people alone so they never develop such a vivid hatred against your country that they'll resort to terrorism. Granted that ship has somewhat sailed after 60 years of CIA goodness, but i figure alot of money will make up for alot of troubles. Why not, the fed is handing out free unlimited money anyway.

Or, you can as you say indeed choose to fight wars. Just don't be suprised if at some point you get dragged into a war you don't want to fight. Karma is a bitch.

RE: Reinventing the wheel?
By rbuszka on 9/17/2012 10:49:55 PM , Rating: 2
Tracks and wheels can climb stairs and walls far more effectively than this device ever could. All it does is march in place until the ground starts moving underneath it. Tracks, on the other hand, have proven themselves in high-speed applications, as long as they are lightweight and mounted to suspensions that have enough travel and ability to keep the track under tension.

Search YouTube for the "Ripsaw".

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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