Tech & Kit

US Military Set to Release BigDog

Multiple news sources have reported that the US Military is deploying “BigDogs” to Afghanistan to assist in the fight against the enemy.

Dubbed “the most advanced quadruped robot on Earth,” BigDog is the alpha male of the Boston Dynamics family of robots. It is a quadruped robot that walks, runs, and climbs on rough terrain and carries heavy loads. BigDog is powered by a gasoline engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system. BigDog’s legs are articulated like an animal’s, and have compliant elements that absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. BigDog is the size of a large dog or small mule, measuring 1 meter long, 0.7 meters tall and 75 kg weight.

BigDog has an on-board computer that controls locomotion, servos the legs and handles a wide variety of sensors. BigDog’s control system manages the dynamics of its behavior to keep it balanced, steer, navigate, and regulate energetics as conditions vary. 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.

The BigDogs — four-legged robots that can navigate the country’s treacherous terrain — and pilotless helicopters can transport tons of supplies to remote bases are just two of the new weapons being tested in Afghanistan.

In separate trials, BigDog runs at 4 mph, climbs slopes up to 35 degrees, walks across rubble, and carries a 340 lb load. Its robot brain, a sophisticated computer, controls sensors that adapt rapidly to the environment. The entire control system regulates, steers and navigates ground contact. A laser gyroscope keeps BigDog on his metal paws — even when the robot slips, stumbles or is kicked over.

BigDog is being developed by Boston Dynamics with the goal of creating robots that have rough-terrain mobility that can take them anywhere on Earth that people and animals can go. The program is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).

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15 Comments

  1. Pretty amazing stuff.

    Was anyone else a little bit freaked out by it though? I felt really weird watching it regain its balance much like a person would after being kicked.

  2. There are videos of this device on Youtube, it is damned impressive as it walks across rocks, uphill, in snow and even gets a side kick on ice and maintains.

    Boston Dynamics also has a smaller unit that looks like a large robot bug. That model can climb up the side of a building!

    Great stuff for surveillance and "package delivery" I would guess.

  3. That was absolutely incredible, especialy its ability to regain balance, but I wanna know whats wrong with just a donkey, hahaha they do the same stuff only they arnt bullet proof.
    Hopefully they wont cover it in digital camaflage as that stuff is shit.

  4. I didn't know there was a need for a machine that could sort of do what a donkey can, and has done since time immemorial…Except without that noise. I really don't see a practical application of this machine in its current state, unless you think that an enemy that can't afford EW should be given a fair chance with the buzzing… Still, an absolutely phenomenal scientific/engineering achievement! It feels very odd to watch it, and when the guy kicked it I found my initial reaction was "Hey! Don't do that you asshole!"… then I turned red 🙂

  5. So then, we're going to have a stupid robot to carry our rucksacks, but we'll have to hump a few 20 gallon fuel cans for it? Don't see the point. Still an incredible feat of engineering, though, and if they sell it on the civilian market, I might buy it to ride to work 😉

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