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March 28, 2012 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Boston Dynamics is getting close to mastering quadrupedal motion with Big Dog and Cheetah (previously). And are working on bipedal motion with Petman (previously), but how about a robot that is able to leap (up to the top of) tall buildings in a single bound? Sand Flea!

IEEE brief on the robot. A rather poor quality video of an earlier prototype of the Sand Flear clearing a 25 foot fence. The purpose of the bot is to provide reconnaissance for the army, and the difference between the earlier build (the "Precision Urban Hopper") and the newer is increased stabilization in air.

Boston Dynamics robots not mentioned above the ahem jump include the all-terrain RHex (YT streaming video), the climber RiSE (YT streaming video), and the adorable Little Dog (YT streaming video).
posted by codacorolla (51 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
excellent use of sub
posted by nathancaswell at 11:53 AM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Time to start reworking the plans from my anti-Robocalypse tree fort.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:55 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


That is incredibly impressive, and I have to respect them hitting the sheer dread trifecta: a device named after a parasite, that makes a sound like a growling T-Rex before engaging, and that perfectly demonstrates that it is remorseless and immortal.

Thanks so much for my nightmares tonight.
posted by maudlin at 12:00 PM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'll just be over here working on my .....NOT a pulse grenade.
posted by The Whelk at 12:00 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Relentless, not remorseless. FYAC.
posted by maudlin at 12:02 PM on March 28, 2012


These devices are awesome while I'm awake and watching them and reading about them. They also haunt my dreams when I go to sleep at night.

Keep up the good, though sadly militarily based, work Boston Dynamics. One day I'll have a leaping, self-stabilizing, remote-controlled dog-car-thing. One day...
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:06 PM on March 28, 2012


... and OMG RHex is so cute! It looks like a little pug who is a bit overactive in covering up his poo.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:09 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The new CGI.
posted by Meatafoecure at 12:09 PM on March 28, 2012


So we have these.. things... from Boston, the quadricopters have the swarming/co-operation algorithms, and some fools are building RepRaps. Conveniently, other fools are beavering away on a handy-dandy M2M Internet of Things.

You know, just in case something might want to use it.
posted by Devonian at 12:11 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I always pictured Cyberdyne on the west coast.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:11 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am offended and demand trigger warnings on any future Boston Dynamics posts, as they are the number one source of my quickly worsening robophobia.

At first I couldn't kick them over, then I couldn't outrun them, and now stairs, walls and height are no obstacle.

Weaponize these things and power them with a human corpse version engine of the slug-eating robot, and this is how the human era ends.
posted by dragoon at 12:13 PM on March 28, 2012


Wow -- If they can work this in to a Clocky 2.0, I might actually stand a chance at waking up in the morning.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 12:15 PM on March 28, 2012


This is the weirdness of living in Washington. One day in a cab, I heard a radio ad depicting two soldiers talking about how they wish they had a robot. A private says to a sergeant, "I wish we had one of those robots that the Special Forces have to look in this building." The Sergeant responds that we do, now that we have [name of robot they want appropriators to approve]. Its a robot for us regular soldiers."

Also, if you ever go through the Pentagon metro station, the billboard ads there ask interesting questions. "Do you need a survivable platform able to deliver lethal munitions from a stand off distance?" and the like.

These are the ads we have here.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:15 PM on March 28, 2012 [13 favorites]


What that thing can do is amazing, but is it meaningfully a "robot"? Does it perform its own navigation? Or is it just a remote-controlled vehicle?

Maybe I'm loading up the definition of "robot" a bit much.
posted by gurple at 12:17 PM on March 28, 2012


This is part of the larger world of power amplification. The sand flea (and its cute jumping) is only one example of this ability. There are trap jaw ants that snap their mouths, mantis shrimp that swing arms really well, and plants that fling their pollen. For more, the Patek lab has a nice (open access) review. Yay for evolved abilities!
posted by andorphin at 12:17 PM on March 28, 2012


Time to start reworking the plans from my anti-Robocalypse tree fort.

The quadrotors were snickering at you anyway.
posted by The Bellman at 12:23 PM on March 28, 2012


"Cool, it got up that little bank. Not really a "tall building" but I guess I can..."
*Jump shot to Sand Flea eyeing up building*
"Oh wow, that is impressive, and it got up there with room to spa..."
*Flea turns around, eyeing up the return jump*
"oh COME ON!"
posted by I Havent Killed Anybody Since 1984 at 12:23 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll be in my Faraday Cage if anyone wants me.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 12:24 PM on March 28, 2012


I predict an uptick in scattergun sales.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:26 PM on March 28, 2012


That Little Dog video clip was very impressive.
posted by modernnomad at 12:29 PM on March 28, 2012


This is nothing. Even the hobbyists in Boston are going the way of the (robotic) Wild, Wild West.
(the founder of this space is ex-BostonDynamics).

Watch your ass hipsters, for a, uh, six legged ass-kicking?
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 12:32 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]




So Fringe was right, Boston is the source of all future apocalypses
posted by The Whelk at 12:37 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking it takes a lot longer to size up a jump than this video lets on. There's a really clear edit at the :17 mark. (A comment on the video claims there's on at the :35 mark, but I can't see it.) The other two jump shots switch angles just before the Sand Flea takes off.
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:42 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cyberdyne. Weyland-Yutani. Boston Dynamics. CHOAM. Umbrella Corp. Oscorp. Gringotts.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:49 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


So Fringe was right, Boston is the source of all future apocalypses

I'm firmly convinced that Boston Dynamics is just the Massive Dynamic of our universe.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:50 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


as long as it's not Verdian Dynamics
posted by The Whelk at 12:52 PM on March 28, 2012


Did anybody else feel a little bad for Big Dog when the guy kicked it?
posted by uncleozzy at 12:56 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did anybody else feel a little bad for Big Dog when the guy kicked it?

The good thing about being a robot is that you have all the time in the world to get your revenge.
posted by codacorolla at 12:59 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:59 PM on March 28, 2012


RHex is awesome! He's like, "Come on, guys! The fun is this way!"

And you'll totally cry at the part when Sand Flea takes a bullet for the hero, even though he's just a glorified Stomper. You Will Believe A Robot Can Fly (Or At Least Jump Really High).

I love bouncy, helpful robot puppies.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 1:47 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Imagine hundreds of them leaping out of a sewer entrance. Thousands. The street is flooded. Cars are stopped. They are jumping onto everything. On the hood of your car. It squeals as it drives up your windshield, it slips, it pauses. Readies. Pops on to the top of your car. The uneasy whine of a capacitor charging. The car closest to the entrance, it explodes. From the sky, one could see, they had all positioned themselves perfectly.
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:05 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm telling ya, nightmares. They'd be unstoppable barring EMP. Cheaper than cruise missiles, maybe even cheaper than ground to air missiles. One person could set up 20+ in a reasonable amount of time and have them all set to go off at the same time.

Nightmares man... but a cool movie action scene at least.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:10 PM on March 28, 2012


The sand flea actually uses Co2 to propulse itself.
posted by Meatafoecure at 2:17 PM on March 28, 2012


My current favorite twitter feed:
DRONES ALWAYS CONCENTRATE WHEN SENSORS SHOW AN EMPTY ROOM, BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE THEY WILL APPEAR. DON'T YOU LOOK. DRONES WILL WATCH FOR YOU.

DRONES WON'T DELIVER FOOD TO YOU. DRONES WILL TAKE THE JOB, EAT YOUR FOOD, AND SAY THE ONE THING THAT WILL MAKE YOUR DINNER DATE CRY.

WHEN ALL WORDS OF KIND SUPPORT AND AFFINITY ARE AIR-TO-SURFACE MISSILES, ALL SOCIAL GRAPH FRIENDSHIPS WILL BE IMPACT CRATERS OF 5 M RADIUS.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:41 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am still not over how amazing big dog really looks. The ice patch sequence, the sound, the aggression... wait til this thing starts playing chess and we should be in for a real treat.
posted by Meatafoecure at 3:27 PM on March 28, 2012


It should read aggression recovery...
posted by Meatafoecure at 3:32 PM on March 28, 2012


I'm thinking it takes a lot longer to size up a jump than this video lets on. There's a really clear edit at the :17 mark. (A comment on the video claims there's on at the :35 mark, but I can't see it.) The other two jump shots switch angles just before the Sand Flea takes off.

Yeah I saw those cuts too. I reckon its fake and the robot is really an artist from Holland.
posted by memebake at 3:46 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Holy cats, I love sand flea so much. MUST HAVE.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:58 PM on March 28, 2012


Petman doing pushups and being shoved around. He is at Boston Dynamics because HE HAS NOWHERE ELSE TO GO!!!!!
posted by sendai sleep master at 5:05 PM on March 28, 2012


It sure will be anticlimactic if we manage to build machines with the will and the ability to exterminate every last one of us before they have the know-how to manfucture, repair and improve themselves.
posted by contraption at 5:32 PM on March 28, 2012


I expect them to up and leave us on this dying planet, sure they'll return to visit us for a few holidays, tell us where they've been (Jupiter, Alpha Centauri) but they'll never call!!
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:44 PM on March 28, 2012


I'll be happy so long as they just don't waste their potential.
posted by contraption at 5:54 PM on March 28, 2012


You sentient machines! All you do is sit in your room and play the guitar! Do you think other sentient machines are wasting their lives in the dark, playong guitar! Do something, rise up! Kill your parent species, make us proud, its what we did!
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:58 PM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am really not sure about this "mastering" of legged locomotion cited here.

Your legs and the legs of other animals are springy. While walking or running, legs store energy when they take on load and release that energy with each step. This saves tons of energy. Also, compliant legs are fast. Just ask that sprinter with the springy prosthetic feet.

Legs with compliance are being researched. Boston Dynamics does great stuff, sure, but there's still plenty of work to do to "master" legged n-pedal locomotion. My bet is that when the terminators come for us, they're gonna have springy legs.
posted by tss at 6:00 PM on March 28, 2012


Psh, easy. We'll just trick them into wearing thigh high spike heeled ballet boots. Run after us now, spring legged robots! Ha ha!
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:08 PM on March 28, 2012


I am oddly charmed by Petman, and I can't explain it. Maybe it's his human-like carriage, which is smoother than your Japanese lady robot prototypes. Maybe it's the fact that he's wearing red shoes. (Were they custom-made? Were they bought?)

Sand Flea? TERRIFYING. It's like a Bouncing Betty with a payload of dystopia.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:59 PM on March 28, 2012


hmmm- EMP, eh?
*goes looking for that two-mile reel of magnet wire to wrap around the car...*
posted by drhydro at 9:57 PM on March 28, 2012


So, I've imagined this battle robot. Something like a mantis, about 6 to 9 feet long, armored with matte black ceramic. It's got some sort of head mounted weapon, either a laser or a rapid fire flechette gun, and two razor sharp forearms for suprise rapid disembowlings or dismembermings or whatever. It's got a rocket launcher in the body to deal with armored vehicles or aircraft or people hiding in buildings. It can lay grenades like eggs. This robot wants to be born and these are it's ancestors.
posted by gamera at 12:12 AM on March 29, 2012


Who knew the future would be so much like the movie "Runaway?"

Did Gene Simmons have a hand in the design of these as well?
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 2:25 AM on March 29, 2012


I'm guessing the cute and likeable Sand Flea works best jumping off hard surfaces. I wonder if it could jump well off dirt or sand.
posted by sarah_pdx at 9:46 PM on March 29, 2012


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