Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Horse-like Robot


(Video link) Boston Dynamics has introduced a new walking vehicle that is designed to carry heavy payloads through rough terrain. Powered by an internal combustion engine, it can stand up and navigate through heavy brush. The head is packed with terrain sensors that allow it to follow a person walking in front of it.

10 comments:

MrCachet said...

ROFL! Put a dino skin on it. It certainly doesn't look like BigFoot.

a chris said...

Argh, that's absolutely fantastic but its hooves are pawing at the floor of the uncanny valley for me. If it were following me I'd have a hard time not running!

Just discovered your blog via Rob Adams (http://www.treeshark.com/treeblog/). Two great blogs with arty brain food.

Adam Hreha said...

The shot of the two robots coming down the road looks fake to me although I know its real. I think the way the "body" stays level during the strides is throwing me off. You'd expect more bounce from an animal.

Can't wait to buy one of these from Home Depot!

Rich said...

A tap dancing version of this wouldn't have been too far a cry:-)

James Pailly said...

As I understand it, DARPA is associated with the Defense Department. I think their plan is to confuse the enemy.

Anonymous said...

I wish to know just one thing: what's wrong with ACTUAL horses?!

And don't give me the "they're costly to keep and to feed" cliche. I bet darpa spent enough money--and effort--on that thing to feed 100s of horses for years. Besides, if that thing is anything like a car, here goes the "saving keep cost" argument into smog.

Do you know the "If it moves like a (--) and looks likes a (--)" argument? And that thing doesn't even *look* like a horse (obviously more like a mechanical monster from a cheap sci-fi flick).

A REAL horse has much more to it than movement.

James, I'd be very interested to know your personal view on this. And don't worry, no matter which way it goes, I won't be upset. Your beautiful art--and generous blog--make up for any difference of opinions!

James Gurney said...

Anonymous, you've raised an excellent point. I'm sure you're right that real horses could do the job of carrying payloads and following leaders far more effectively than these bumbling machines. I don't know the price tag for development and production of these things, but I'm sure it's in the multimillions.

I would add to your questions: Why does it always have to be the military that leads such creative development? To which the answer is probably: Follow the money.

As a geek and an engineer at heart, I suppose the best answer that it is in the nature of human engineer to invent things, and I am always of two minds with such innovations. Airplanes fly higher than birds and cars drive faster than horses, but as you suggest, height and speed don't necessarily improve life, and something is lost for everything that is gained.

THOMAS NACKID art & design said...

Real horses have to be fed, cleaned and housed whether they are working or not. A robot can be turned off and put into storage. I would be willing to bet that the cost of caring for real horses would far outstrip the development and construction costs of the robots. Also there is a humanitarian issue. Even in peace-time working horses suffer greatly. Army horses and mules in war-time died in droves both on the battle field and from shear exhaustion.

Teresa Rodriguez said...

My first thought was....awww, it's a baby Imperial Walker! :)

Alex Castillo said...

Looks like someone has been reading Dinotopia!