Print 55 comment(s) - last by JediJeb.. on Oct 9 at 6:07 PM

  (Source: Boston Dynamics via YouTube)
Don't worry, if you're a world-class runner you can outrun this mean quadruped

For those who fear that one day our robotic contraptions may turn on us, you may have felt cold chill when witnessing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funded "Cheetah" -- a headless robotic quadruped by Boston Dynamics.  But at least Cheetah -- faster than any human at speeds of 26 miles per hour -- was constrained to a tether. 

Well, your worst nightmares have now been realized as Cheetah is now running free as a next generation model dubbed "WildCat".  

The good news is that the untethered robotic cat (which bears a vague resemblance to the Transformer robot "Ravage") isn't quite as fast.  WildCat is capable of galloping or bounding gates at speeds of up to 16 miles per hour, where as the the fastest human can reach speeds of 27.79 miles per hour (with Olympic training).

The bad news is that WildCat can cover a mile in just 3 minutes and 45 seconds.  That's faster than any American alive today or any human for that matter, save three men -- Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj, who holds the world record for running a mile in 3 min 43.13 seconds; Kenyan Noah Ngeny (3:43.40); and Algerian Noureddine Morceli (3:44.39).

Cheetah and WildCat are produced by Boston Dynamics, a small defense contractor that was a spinoff of Professor Marc Raibert's university "Leg Lab".

Presumably the new war robot could used for hauling soldiers gear through dangerous battlefields, or as a terrifying tool to kill "enemy combatants", particularly if the speed can be bumped up closer to its predecessor.  

Sources: Boston Dynamics [1], [2], IEEE Spectrum

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This is cool and all but...
By Manch on 10/4/2013 4:37:53 PM , Rating: 2
They say it can be used to haul stuff but, how does it compare to a pack mule? The tech is promising though. I could see packing comm gear on this things and sending it off to a hill or mountain top to relay signals down into the valleys or use as an ISR asset. Nice little remote detonation feature to keep the baddies from getting it.

RE: This is cool and all but...
By Ammohunt on 10/4/2013 4:56:40 PM , Rating: 3
Good question! if you take a running lawn mower with you when you pack into the wilderness this would be ideal.

RE: This is cool and all but...
By DT_Reader on 10/4/2013 5:43:08 PM , Rating: 2
Good question. I'd say the pack mule has the plus of feeding itself, while you need to carry fuel for the robocat. But the robocat has the plus of you being able to control it, while the mule* pretty much does as it pleases.

* as in "stubborn as"

RE: This is cool and all but...
By Shig on 10/4/2013 5:50:44 PM , Rating: 2
Mules tend to die when you shoot them, this will have armor. It's a battlefield tool, not to take on a camping trip to carry your stuff.

RE: This is cool and all but...
By Jeffk464 on 10/4/2013 6:42:15 PM , Rating: 2
Thats good, if the bad guys shoot at the mule instead of soldiers it gives the soldiers a heads up.

RE: This is cool and all but...
By geekman1024 on 10/4/13, Rating: 0
RE: This is cool and all but...
By Manch on 10/4/2013 6:50:51 PM , Rating: 2
Pack mules can carry a lot of weight. I guess you could armor one up and it still feeds itself.

RE: This is cool and all but...
By geekman1024 on 10/4/2013 9:47:13 PM , Rating: 2
New DLC available: The Mule Armor! It is yours for $1.99.

RE: This is cool and all but...
By Manch on 10/4/2013 8:41:38 PM , Rating: 3
So instead of making an artificial mule, we get a real one pump it full of steroids making it the Lance Armstrong of donkeys so it can carry more, armor it up like Iron Man to protect it from bullets, and then control it like a drone with some kind of mind control. Mybe this?

It would probably be cheaper and we will be called UPS - Unmanned Pack-mule System

RE: This is cool and all but...
By esandrs on 10/7/2013 10:01:51 AM , Rating: 2
It's a "Multiple Use Labor Element".

Kids these days (smh). :)

RE: This is cool and all but...
By Jeffk464 on 10/4/2013 6:40:38 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, I'm guessing the pack mule is the more reliable system.

RE: This is cool and all but...
By PorreKaj on 10/5/2013 4:16:57 AM , Rating: 2
Wild cat is a speed project.

Their LS3 is what you are looking for:

RE: This is cool and all but...
By Manch on 10/5/2013 6:15:18 AM , Rating: 2
I've seen that one. Pretty cool. Now, don't get me wrong, I think the tech is great, and it has it's uses. As a pack mule, it's not there yet, but it's coming along pretty well. The speed from the wild cat is cool, but the purpose of legs is to allow it to move over terrain that would give wheeled vehicles trouble. I want to see this thing run on some rough terrain, not a parking lot.

RE: This is cool and all but...
By BZDTemp on 10/5/2013 6:45:09 AM , Rating: 2
I think there is potential, but until huge improvements are made it's mostly for it to star in a Hollywood B class horror movie.

RE: This is cool and all but...
By mars2k on 10/7/2013 10:35:15 AM , Rating: 2
Ok so a human is faster…in the short run. How many 3 minute miles can this thing do in a row. How many consecutive 3.43s can a human run? A cheetah is a sprinter and has to quit as its body temp rises a hyena runs slower but further. Each sort of performance style has its place this should have been called a hyena.

RE: This is cool and all but...
By Jaybus on 10/7/2013 12:32:14 PM , Rating: 2
To clarify, the fastest humans can run faster. Certainly not the average human.

RE: This is cool and all but...
By jRaskell on 10/7/2013 2:53:57 PM , Rating: 2
What mars is asking though, is how long can those humans run faster? The Wildcat can run at that speed for as long as it has fuel to power it.

Those three humans that can run a mile in under 3:45, can they maintain that speed over 2 miles, 5 miles, 10 miles, 20 miles? My guess is, best case scenario they can maintain those speeds for a couple miles. After that, the fatigue is going to be too much and Wildcat will quickly catch up.

It can go 16 miles per hour
By flyingpants1 on 10/4/2013 4:09:09 PM , Rating: 5
It can go 16 miles per hour, and you can hear it from about 16 miles away! That gives you an hour to get on your bicycle and escape!

RE: It can go 16 miles per hour
By amanojaku on 10/4/2013 5:16:52 PM , Rating: 1
They shoulda called it Chihuahua, because it sounds like it ate some Taco Bell.

RE: It can go 16 miles per hour
By AMDftw on 10/4/2013 5:23:00 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds great. Love the smell of nitro engines.

RE: It can go 16 miles per hour
By Phoque on 10/4/2013 10:07:27 PM , Rating: 2
They must have thought about fitting it with a muffler, perhaps just not for the demo.

Otherwise, noise guided missiles would quickly appear on the battlefield.

RE: It can go 16 miles per hour
By Samus on 10/5/2013 2:45:44 AM , Rating: 2
Using small, reliable and proven 2-cycle engines is common for industrial testing before machines are fitted with more exotic or expensive options like lithium/hydrogen, which this will likely end up with in order to be silent. But the power source has little importance at this stage...although it looks like they're concept is solid so it might be time to move onto packaging and finesse.

I've loved following this "dog" over the years. It's fun to see it out in the wild and not on a conveyor belt anymore.

RE: It can go 16 miles per hour
By superstition on 10/5/13, Rating: 0
By superstition on 10/8/2013 2:01:13 PM , Rating: 2
I can still see Russia from my house.

Not copying nature.
By drycrust3 on 10/6/2013 1:56:19 PM , Rating: 2
I think the front legs are the wrong way around. I had wondered why mammals have their feet the way they are, and now, when we build a robot that has them different we can see why cattle, horses, sheep, goats, dogs, etc were created the way they are. This thing looks like it's front heavy, but I think that's just because the front hooves seem to spend most of the time touching the ground behind the shoulder, the equivalent of reducing the "wheel base" on a car. If the front legs operated the same way as the do on a mammal, where the joint is behind the shoulder, then I think they would find the hooves spend most of the time touching the ground in front of the shoulder, which would add to the stability when running, galloping, etc.

RE: Not copying nature.
By FaaR on 10/6/2013 4:34:01 PM , Rating: 2
Bunches of mammals DO have their front legs with knees (elbows?) facing forwards. Like cows, goats, horses, antelopes and so on. In fact pretty much any hooved/herbivore animal has legs that bend forwards. ...Except, uh, elephants. Exception to the rule, and all of that I guess! :)

Of course, elephants don't have hooves, so they're only a partial exception. Other non-hooved herbivores like rhinos or hippos do have forward-facing knees.

Not sure why most herbivores differ in this regard compared to predators like big cats, wolves and such, if there indeed is any survival benefit at all from either choice...

RE: Not copying nature.
By drycrust3 on 10/6/2013 5:58:52 PM , Rating: 2
Duh! Got it partly wrong ... again. Thanks for correcting me. Yes, it does seem that horses, cattle, etc, do have their legs that way, and yet others like cats and dogs have them the other way around.
Still, I think having the front legs on that robot so they bend forwards would make it more stable than if they were the other way around.

RE: Not copying nature.
By drmo on 10/7/2013 9:07:50 AM , Rating: 2
What they have facing forward on the front is the carpus - our wrist. The elbows still point backwards. Equine and ruminants walk on their phalanges.

RE: Not copying nature.
By Jaybus on 10/7/2013 12:24:52 PM , Rating: 2
Quadruped predators like big cats, wolves, and bears have multiple uses for the distal forelimbs. For one thing, they have claws and use them as weapons. Quadruped herbivores pretty much use them only for locomotion, so the distal forelimbs (and hind) can be very lean. The light weight distal limbs allow more energy efficient movement, so the deer can sprint much longer distances than the predator, if not quite as fast. Elephants, I suppose are all about supporting the mass and don't have much need to run away in any case.

RE: Not copying nature.
By 91TTZ on 10/7/2013 12:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
All of the animals you mentioned have knees that bend the same way. They bend the same way as ours.

Elephants, cows, cats, dogs- all have knees that bend the same way.

Showing My Age
By Reclaimer77 on 10/4/2013 6:17:28 PM , Rating: 3
But did anyone get a Screamers flashback reading about this thing?


RE: Showing My Age
By Azethoth on 10/4/2013 7:08:11 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it already screams. Just missing some jaws or spinning blades or something. The wounded soldier model is going to need batteries though.

RE: Showing My Age
By Reclaimer77 on 10/4/2013 8:05:22 PM , Rating: 3
lol ah yes, our Shakespear quoting Type 2 model.

"I came into the world with my legs forward:
Had I not reason, think ye, to make haste,
And seek their ruin that usurp'd our right?
The midwife wonder'd and the women cried
'O, Jesus bless us, he is born with teeth!'

I can see its future...
By Tequilasunriser on 10/4/2013 4:13:16 PM , Rating: 5 some sort of running bomb.

Lil' bastard's gonna sprint into your domicile and paint your walls with YOU.

On a side note, this thing looks and runs like a hound-eye from halflife.

By inperfectdarkness on 10/7/2013 2:44:26 AM , Rating: 2
The noise! The NOISE!

It tripped on asphalt
By augiem on 10/4/2013 11:21:32 PM , Rating: 2
Flat asphalt surface and it still tripped. I don't think I'd have any trouble outrunning this thing in most environments. Try some trail running dude.

RE: It tripped on asphalt
By Jeffk464 on 10/5/2013 1:20:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, I was thinking the same thing. The only reason to go with legs over tracks or wheels is to handle harsh terrain. By the way the flesh and blood mule is excellent in harsh terrain, its why they were bred in the first place.

RE: It tripped on asphalt
By marvdmartian on 10/8/2013 7:28:29 AM , Rating: 2
Yep. Was thinking that it does okay across a fairly level parking lot. Let's see how it does in rough terrain, like you'd find in, oh, say....Afghanistan??

Damn thing looks like a Whippet....with a lacrosse helmet strapped to either end of it!

And did anyone check to see if that engine was EPA compliant?? ;)

Boston Dynamics
By ertomas on 10/4/2013 4:30:46 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds scarily close to Massive Dynamics!

RE: Boston Dynamics
By JediJeb on 10/9/2013 6:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if Walter Bishop works there.

And does it come with seats that warm you butt.

Dog > Cat
By YearOfTheDingo on 10/4/2013 5:27:06 PM , Rating: 3
This thing ain't capable of ripping the brain out of a Strider.

By Nephelai on 10/5/2013 10:47:15 AM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one that finds it a bit difficult to watch?. I know it's a machine but something about it pushes my sympathy / cruelty button.

RE: Odd
By BillyBatson on 10/5/13, Rating: -1
RE: Odd
By BillyBatson on 10/5/2013 9:21:41 PM , Rating: 2
Looks like there are other robot sympathizer out there lol

This is all great
By Schmide on 10/5/2013 3:05:11 PM , Rating: 3
Till the terrorists discover cow tipping technology.

By DaveLessnau on 10/4/2013 4:34:42 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe Saturday Night Live wasn't digital enough. Stolen and modified from :

[ dissolve to Woman #2 in her apartment ]

[ Music: "Jaws Theme" ]

[ a knock at the door ]

Woman #2: [ appoaches the door ] Yes?

WildCat Robot: [ muffled voice ] Mrs. Arlsbergerhh??

Woman #2: Who?

WildCat Robot: [ muffled voice ] Mrs. Johnannesburrrr??

Woman #2: Who is it?

WildCat Robot: [ muffled voice ] Flowers.

Woman #2: Flowers? From whom?

WildCat Robot: [ muffled voice ] Plumber, ma'am..

Woman #2: I don't need a plumber. You're that clever WildCat Robot, aren't you?

WildCat Robot: [ muffled voice ] Candygram.

Woman #2: Candygram, my foot! Get out of here before I call the proper authorities. You're the WildCat Robot, and you know it.

WildCat Robot: [ muffled voice ] I'm only a dolphin, ma'am..

Woman #2: A dolphin? Well.. okay..

[ she opens the door, as the WildCat Robot pulls her screaming into the hallway ]

Not complete yet
By Dribble on 10/4/2013 6:58:48 PM , Rating: 2
Needs to a loud speaker that makes little yapping dog noises and a bear trap attached to its front. That would get people running.

The cat...
By geekman1024 on 10/4/2013 9:37:45 PM , Rating: 2
It's running backward... Can't be unseen.

By BillyBatson on 10/5/2013 11:43:41 AM , Rating: 2
That thing is so loud it won't be winning any stealth awards anytime soon and I can rest assured one will never sneak up behind me!!!
It's funny that they named it after felines but the way it walks is more like a gazelle or deer.

Waiting for Rover.
By Devilboy1313 on 10/5/2013 5:05:55 PM , Rating: 2
While a neat concept ... I'll wait till they get the Prisoner's rover.

easy enough to escape..
By drewsup on 10/6/2013 7:15:12 AM , Rating: 2
it has poor turning radius, just make a quick buttonhook turn, thereby escaping it's flesh ripping front appendages, then kick it over, a kill shot to the engine will finish it off.

Sure is quiet...
By Blood1 on 10/7/2013 10:00:47 AM , Rating: 2
Wow this thing would be great for covert ops. Quiet and stealthy.
Enemy: "Do you hear something...."
wheeeee wheeee wheee wheee wheeeeeee wheeeee whweeeeeeeeeee
Enemy: "Oh its just this dog.. go on about our business...."

By KrayLoN on 10/7/2013 10:51:16 AM , Rating: 2
....until we see this in the next Call Of Duty or Battlefield? :) Will need an RPG to take out that thing.

Sheldon is right....
By topkill on 10/7/2013 11:19:05 AM , Rating: 2
It's only a matter of time before they send one back to kill John Conner.

AMEE or Robopocalypse
By mike8675309 on 10/7/2013 2:36:01 PM , Rating: 2
Both fictions come to mind with this. Of course one of the major challenges yet to be overcome is the power system. In most fictions the power system ends up being the size of a roll of quarters and will last for years if not tens of years.
I doubt we'll ever achieve that.

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