When science fiction becomes real: unleash the robot cheetahs!

March 1, 2011

Some of the neatest stuff comes out of the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) — like this Internet thingy we’re playing with. Much of their work –that they tell us about– involves robotics, “intelligent” machines that can be sent into dangerous areas both to spare human soldiers the risk and to extend their capabilities. Wired has story on the progress toward developing, get this, a robot cheetah:

Perhaps you thought the four-legged BigDog robot wasn’t eerily lifelike enough. That’ll change soon. BigDog’s makers are working on a new quadruped that moves faster than any human and is agile enough to “chase and evade.”

Boston Dynamics, maker of the Army’s BigDog robotic mule, announced today that Darpa has awarded it a contract to build a much faster and more fearsome animal-like robot, Cheetah.

As the name implies, Cheetah is designed to be a four-legged robot with a flexible spine and articulated head (and potentially a tail) that runs faster than the fastest human. In addition to raw speed, Cheetah’s makers promise that it will have the agility to make tight turns so that it can “zigzag to chase and evade” and be able to stop on a dime.

Cheetah builds off work on the company’s previous four legged animal bot, BigDog.  It was built as a kind of unmanned pack mule, designed to carry equipment for troops on the battlefield. The robotic donkey could carry 300 lbs. over 13 miles on flat ground, take a swift kick and keep on moving. It’s creepy, lifelike movement can be seen on a number of videos online, climbing over hills and snow and hiking alongside soldiers, using GPS coordinates as its waypoints.

They talk about non-military applications, of course*, but, come on. Who didn’t smile at the prospect of unleashing robotic cheetahs that can run faster than a human on the Taliban?

LINKS: An earlier post on our coming Space Marine force. I’m also quite interested in powered exoskeletons, which are a precursor to full-blown powered armor. As I like to say, “We have all the best toys!”

*To keep the progressives happy, y’know. They’re sensitive like that.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Video: Pork is bipartisan

August 25, 2010

The latest winner of Reason.TV‘s “Porker of the Month” Award is Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY). Wonder why?

Conservation or nepotism? Since 2007 Rogers has been promoting a bill which would provide federal grants to overseas wildlife protection for lions and cheetahs. Surprise! Rogers’ daughter is the grants administrator for the Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund, and has been since—you guessed it—2007.

Here’s the video:

Good job, Hal. Glad to know the public treasury is your own private family-aid program.

Sadly, Roger’s Democratic opponent, Jim Holbert, is an advocate of single-payer health care, so that rules out voting for him to get rid of Porky Hal, who looks likely to win, anyway. Maybe next time a credible Republican candidate who treats public money as a trust and not his own private property will give Jim a run for his our money in a primary.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)