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)


Giant Israeli death-robots!

November 15, 2010

Well, not quite, but it’s still a neat use of robotic technology. Israeli researchers are working on a snake robot that can be used for clandestine scouting and planting explosives, and it uses some cool technology:

According to (Lt. Col. Gabi) Dobresco, the robotic snake could be useful in urban and subterranean warfare, enabling the inspection and surveillance of sewage systems, narrow tunnels, or culverts, inaccessible by other systems. Another advantage of such robots is the fact that the entire robot acts as highly flexible arm having multiple Degrees Of Freedom (DOF).

The vision for snake robots, outlined by Dobresco includes highly maneuverable snake shaped robot that can maneuver through difficult terrain, ‘sneak’ stealthily inside buildings, use its sensors to scan their interiors. The robot will be able to carry disposable sensors that could be separated and left behind to monitor activity inside buildings. When suspicious activity inside buildings is detected, the stealthy robot will be able to identify specific targets while remain virtually unnoticed, and leave behind delayed activated explosive charges for employing lethal effect.

As primary sensors, the robot will be equipped with a thermal imager, miniature cameras or low-light TV sensors, and possibly laser scanners operating as laser radar (LADAR). As each of the links is embedded with cameras, the entire group provides redundant, instant multiple 360 degree view of the surrounding while mapping of indoor and subterranean areas by laser radar.

This is actually the third generation of robotic snake the Israelis have worked on. Below is video of the first:

Mind you, they’re now two generation past what you just saw. This is going to have the brave, brave jihadis so paranoid, they’ll shoot every snake they see, robotic or not.

I’ve often joked, in reference to American military technology, that “we have all the best toys.” It looks like the Israelis are giving us some competition in that department.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)