A recent Guardian
Unlimited article describes the latest test results of a four legged
robot being built by Boston Dynamics
under a DARPA contract. The company claims the internal
combustion-powered, biomemetic (or biodynotic as they call) robot,
named BigDog, will be able to carry a single soldier's gear where ever the
soldier goes. The company says the prototype can carry up to 50kg and
climb 30 degree slopes. The first military versions will be expensive
but once mass-produced, a consumer version would be much cheaper,
perhaps priced "similar to a car". The company is still not releasing
photos of the robot but a Wired
article from last year includes some drawings.
As long as the White House oil gangsters are killing people in Iraq and
letting hundreds of young Americans come home dead or maimed for life,
Robots-Dot-Netters should refuse to co-operate with the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). -Arthur (Mentifex)
I'm trying to be patient and certification retraction is always an
I really don't expect the bigdog to happen realistically. I don't see
soldiers getting a car priced bigdog, much less a $40 hand cart to lug
their stuff around for 100k soldiers. Where's the budget for that
coming from? These things will be heavy too. How you going to
transport/ship these BigHeavyDogs overseas? Any electronic gear riding
on a bigdog will have to be well shock absorbed because this thing will
be doing a lot of bouncing. And power requirements?... the batteries
will need to be changed out hourly or gasoline will need to be refilled
every few hours. That's a lot of batteries/fuel. That's a logistics
nightmare. I think the army must be just leading this company along to
see if these things can be used for some other technology - like killer
In my opinion it's old fashioned thinking that in order to make a
soldier more effective you need to give him bigger guns and heavier
armour so that he needs a big robot to carry all that junk around. The
future is in making equipment smaller, lighter and more ergonomic - a
more closely integrated man/machine system.
How about if the soldier stays home and uses telepresence to "become"
the dog, which is running around on the battlefield loaded with some
nice big guns. That's what the air force is doing with UCAVs. Groups of
them can be flown by a remote human pilot when needed and they can act
on their own if communication with the human is lost or not needed.
I can't remember where I heard this, but I attended a presentation on
this concept. Basically this all about logistics. Soldiers are
carrying too much crap on the field, and all the new gadgets that are
coming out are adding more weight than they can physically carry.
Enter an autonomous cargo carrier. This allows you to offset the duty
of carrying crap to a machine and leaves the soldier free to move about,
scout, kill things, whatever. The robot carrier is also expendable
whereas the soldier is usually more valuable.
Given that one of the weakest points in today's US military is logistics
transporation, as seen by roadside attacks in Iraq, it would be a boon
if they could offset this job to expendable autonomous cargo vehicles.
The military is trying to achieve this from many different angles, and
from what I remember from DARPA, there goal is to have something like
30%-40% of all military vehicles unmanned by 2015.