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  (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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RE: Same problem as every other robot?
By Misty Dingos on 9/17/2012 12:56:04 PM , Rating: 2
This is a possible replacement for the hydraulics.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroactive_polymer...

Power is a real issue for any new machine. I don't have an easy answer for it. I can tell you though if we don't try to find an answer then the middle of the 21st century will look a lot like the end of the 20th century just with about 8 billion more people in the show. If we don't support people with vision we will simply muddle through years until you end up dead and the recycle your corpse for fertilizer.

They want to get this thing into the real world so that they can break it and make it better. This is the same process they took with the Big Dog robot and where is it now? That's right it is entering field testing with the USMC. A modern pack mule for 21st century battlefields. Or any disaster zone.


RE: Same problem as every other robot?
By 91TTZ on 9/17/2012 2:39:23 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
This is the same process they took with the Big Dog robot and where is it now? That's right it is entering field testing with the USMC. A modern pack mule for 21st century battlefields. Or any disaster zone.


Can you give me an example of something the Big Dog can do better than a real pack mule? I'm willing to bet that the real pack mule costs less, can run faster, is more durable, and can outperform the robot version.


By MadMan007 on 9/17/2012 3:07:01 PM , Rating: 3
A pack mule doesn't result in big fat defense contracts.


By superPC on 9/17/2012 5:25:10 PM , Rating: 2
voice command (a mule might respond to other type of command but not as efficient), tracking capabilities (how a mule use this capability is outside of our ability to control them), repairable (a mule can die), can become a gun platform (unless you put a man on a mule, it's not likely we'll ever mount a gun on mules). Should i go on? there's a reason assembly lines now uses robots and people...


"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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