DARPA Wants BigDog for the Army

Posted 27 Feb 2005 at 21:15 UTC by steve Share This

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.

Boycott DARPA until the troops are home, posted 27 Feb 2005 at 22:29 UTC by AI4U » (Observer)

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)

Patients is a virtue., posted 28 Feb 2005 at 14:04 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

I'm trying to be patient and certification retraction is always an option! :-)

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 cheeta-like robots?

Old thinking, posted 28 Feb 2005 at 18:59 UTC by motters » (Master)

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.

new thinking, posted 28 Feb 2005 at 19:47 UTC by steve » (Master)

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.

it's all logistics, posted 1 Mar 2005 at 05:40 UTC by wildmage » (Journeyer)

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.

Jacob Everist

Robotics Research

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