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September 11, 2012 8:17 PM   Subscribe

LS3 - Legged Squat Support System can carry 400lbs over 20 miles without refueling. And is the stuff of nightmares.
posted by blue_beetle (112 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
And is the stuff of nightmares.

I knew that this was Boston Dynamics before I even clicked that link.
posted by figurant at 8:20 PM on September 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


I've seen the "nightmare" bit trotted (har) out with this link as its been making the rounds.

1) All ya'lls nightmares are boring if this is the kind of thing that sets you on edge.
2) IT'S A ROBOT DONKEY. How is that not the most awesome thing you've seen today? Are you holding out on something better?
posted by curious nu at 8:21 PM on September 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


I wonder if they really fixed the engine noise or if they played with the audio.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:21 PM on September 11, 2012


Someone with Money should fund a re-shoot of Aguirre with ASIMO-Kinski and a pack of these things.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:23 PM on September 11, 2012 [13 favorites]




Aww it is adorable. It can't help that two of its legs are on backwards.

Now BigDog is scary, they better stop kicking it like that, BigDog remembers.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:23 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Previously. ...on As The Mefi Turns...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:24 PM on September 11, 2012


2) IT'S A ROBOT DONKEY. How is that not the most awesome thing you've seen today? Are you holding out on something better?

I'm holding out for a robot unicorn, ok?
posted by The World Famous at 8:24 PM on September 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Robot Donkey: still not as good as Actual Donkey.
posted by Scientist at 8:25 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


And is the stuff of nightmares.

Mind-controlled cockroaches.
posted by jcreigh at 8:26 PM on September 11, 2012


IT'S A ROBOT DONKEY
Are you trying to suggest this is the perfect emblem for the CyberDemocrat party?
posted by b1tr0t at 8:26 PM on September 11, 2012


It's amazing how much Boston Dynamics has progressed. Can't have been more than a few years ago they had BigDog videos where it required someone with a large power pack wandering along behind it. Now they're (seemingly) fully independent.
Who knows how long it'll be before we see a video of one sprinting along behind a soldier.
Or sprinting along after a soldier.
posted by secretdark at 8:27 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


So we reinvented the mule. Go figure.
posted by Brian B. at 8:27 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does anyone else get the urge to see if you could sneak up on it and tip it over like a cow?
posted by greenhornet at 8:28 PM on September 11, 2012


curious nu: "IT'S A ROBOT DONKEY."

Looks more like a M.U.L.E. to me.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:29 PM on September 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


Serious question: what do the BD bots have that a donkey doesn't?
posted by codacorolla at 8:29 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


These things are about as scary as Romero's zombies...
posted by HuronBob at 8:29 PM on September 11, 2012


curious nu: "2) IT'S A ROBOT DONKEY. How is that not the most awesome thing you've seen today? Are you holding out on something better?"

I'm holding out for a Hero!

I'm sorry.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:30 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, that thing is 'adorbs'.
posted by codacorolla at 8:30 PM on September 11, 2012


I wish I had one of these to carry my purse and my shopping bags.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 8:30 PM on September 11, 2012


These nightmares you are having. Tell me, as a child were you ever frightened by Major Matt Mason? I see. Very interesting.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:32 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps this will fit better in your nightmares?

Still awesome. This is human evolution at work, self-directed. It's pretty incredible to contemplate. Not saying we're all going to be androids in a hundred years, but this kind of thing is part of the process.
posted by curious nu at 8:32 PM on September 11, 2012


Serious question: what do the BD bots have that a donkey doesn't?

Calmer under fire. Able, presumably, to eventually actual take fire. No need for water or food (though, granted, I imagine they require a lot of battery-power.) Reusable. Easily shippable. Programmable.
Lots, really.
posted by secretdark at 8:33 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


greenhornet: "Does anyone else get the urge to see if you could sneak up on it and tip it over like a cow?"

Somebody else can go look up the videos, but I seem to remember them showing off a stability-control feature in the BigDog demos. Basically a guy just came up alongside it and gave it a few hard shoves, which the machine perfectly reacted to and compensated for. I'd imagine that the technology has only gotten better with this version.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:33 PM on September 11, 2012


I dream of a future without cars--instead we ride horses made by Boston Dynamics.
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:34 PM on September 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's a horse, that has to be refueled every 20 miles. How is this an improvement over an actual horse (or donkey)? Am I missing something?
posted by MikeMc at 8:34 PM on September 11, 2012


Am I missing something?

The arc and pattern of technological advances throughout human history.

Also maybe a heart!
posted by curious nu at 8:37 PM on September 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Smells better.
posted by maryr at 8:38 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]



Serious question: what do the BD bots have that a donkey doesn't?

No Poop.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:38 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


The next time the wife mentions getting a dog, I'm countering with this.
posted by mazola at 8:38 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


With an extra $100 million in government, we'll make it poop, too, by golly.
posted by The World Famous at 8:39 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


government *funding*.
posted by The World Famous at 8:39 PM on September 11, 2012


Serious question: what do the BD bots have that a donkey doesn't?

The desire to KILL ALL HUMANS.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:40 PM on September 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


"It's a horse, that has to be refueled every 20 miles. How is this an improvement over an actual horse (or donkey)? Am I missing something?"
Horses don't react well to gunfire. Not the sounds of it, and certainly not the actual bullets.

Presumably, the LS3 would react somewhat better to getting hit with small arms fire than a horse would.

Also, unlike a horse, you can turn it off and forget about it when you aren't using it.
posted by striatic at 8:40 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Given the fuel requirements the range on it will be limited. It would tie up at least one person to run and maintain it. One app I see is to take point going into a known difficult position to spy out defenses with a camera. Or going into a radioactive hot spot.
posted by stbalbach at 8:40 PM on September 11, 2012


All I know is I can't wait to see War Horse 3: Rise of the Machines

(Not to be confused with War Horse 2: Escape From Pirate Mountain)
posted by The World Famous at 8:44 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


When my meat-body dies die and they read my personality matrix into a holocron to be uploaded into a robot body, I am hoping for something more like a Voltron tiger, But I guess the world needs android mules too and beggers can't be choosers.

Is there any anime about android pack animals? I'd like to get accustomed to the idea.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:45 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


KHJL KHJL KHJL
posted by capricorn at 8:47 PM on September 11, 2012


With an extra $100 million in government, we'll make it poop, too, by golly.

It poops money.
posted by Nomyte at 8:55 PM on September 11, 2012


This chillingly reminds me of the precursor weaponry in PKD's Second Variety. Tangentially, a not-awful film adaptation was made of the short story.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:55 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


BigDog Beta
posted by Authorized User at 8:59 PM on September 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


An idea just in time for Halloween!
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:01 PM on September 11, 2012


Mind-controlled cockroaches.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Aaaaaaaa! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaa!
posted by aspo at 9:03 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


All I see is the roots of the Mechs I've been dreaming about
posted by Redhush at 9:05 PM on September 11, 2012


Serious question: what do the BD bots have that a donkey doesn't?

The ability to be rapidly iterated upon over the next decade or two until you've got a truly all-terrain, hardened & weaponized platform that can can carry thousands of pounds thousands of miles without so much as a whisper?
posted by Ryvar at 9:06 PM on September 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


The bot makes less of an ass of itself.
posted by maryr at 9:14 PM on September 11, 2012


A robot called Cheetah has set a new world speed record for legged robots, running faster than the fastest human.
Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, has mixed feelings about the development.
"It's an incredible technical achievement, but it's unfortunate that it's going to be used to kill people," he suggested.
"It's going to be used for chasing people across the desert, I would imagine. I can't think of many civilian applications - maybe for hunting, or farming, for rounding up sheep.
"But of course if it's used for combat, it would be killing civilians as well as it's not going to be able to discriminate between civilians and soldiers."
Darpa's press release for the Cheetah project suggested that the robots might ultimately be used in "emergency response, humanitarian assistance and other defence missions".

posted by 445supermag at 9:15 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


what do the BD bots have that a donkey doesn't?

I bet that in a few short years, these will be the tool of choice for groundfighting. As airborne drones have changed close air-support, so will remote-controlled walkers for infantry close-quarters combat.
posted by bonehead at 9:22 PM on September 11, 2012


Boston Dynamics just isn't as vaguely menacing of a name as Cyberdyne Systems is.
posted by cmoj at 9:23 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Boston Dynamics: soon to change "Boston" to "Massive"
posted by blue_beetle at 9:25 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


So now that Joss Whedon basically has a free pass to make anything he wants, once, and we're not gonna get Gina Torres as Wonder Woman no matter how much I cry about it on my tumblr, can we get more Firefly and have these thingies all over the place on the dusty, rocky roads of Space Nu Mexico, draped artfully with handwoven ponchos?
posted by Mizu at 9:31 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a military project. It will be outfitted with anti-personnel weapons, and sent into places like Aleppo to clear the streets - and buildings, these things have no trouble navigating stairs - at little to no cost to the government in terms of casualties to loyal forces. With a few thousand of these, you could literally depopulate a small city in under a week: better than a neutron bomb, as you don't need to wait for the radiation to disperse before your people move in.

Those cute little sensors waggling back in forth? They can see you in the darkness and behind walls by your heat signature.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:37 PM on September 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that Boston Dynamics is basically a Federal jobs program for mad scientists. It probably cuts down on the number of doomsday devices that the FBI would otherwise get called out to handle.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:44 PM on September 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Perhaps this will fit better in your nightmares?

It has a WRT-54G. Up its ass. Now that is something.
posted by Chuckles at 10:12 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if they really fixed the engine noise or if they played with the audio.

It sounds to me like they switched from a 2 stroke to a 4 stroke engine - quieter, and lower pitch.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:14 PM on September 11, 2012


So did they figure out the problem of, if you cover that head thing where all the gizmos are going bat-shit crazy, it sort of becomes useless?

I mean, "Oh cool, more military drones, those are pretty popular amongst my friends. More of them!"
posted by alex_skazat at 10:15 PM on September 11, 2012


> I wonder if they really fixed the engine noise or if they played with the audio.

It sounds to me like they switched from a 2 stroke to a 4 stroke engine - quieter, and lower pitch.


It still isn't anything I'd call quiet. And 20miles isn't exactly a useful range. Interesting though.
posted by Chuckles at 10:18 PM on September 11, 2012


Our robotics and processing capabilities have grown by leaps and bounds, but we're still stuck with 19th century tech to power it. If we don't advance out energy storage technology significantly in the coming years, our fighting mechs are going to be stuck with umbilical cables and five minute batteries, and that often doesn't turn out well.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:20 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wireless power via Electromagnetic radiation from a satellite or done overhead. Pretty much beam it with microwaves to top off the batteries when it is in the clear.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:27 PM on September 11, 2012


Carry 400 lbs 20 miles without refueling, then kick somebody's ass: 4 grunts. And, they don't need oiling.

Well, I sort of like the idea of a mechanical mule to carry the tents and extra ammo, and stuff. They need to get it to hush, though. This is not the equipment you give your recon guys.
posted by mule98J at 10:32 PM on September 11, 2012


If you have a transmitter capable of beaming enough power to run this device onto a collector small enough to mount on its back, without having to worry about weather conditions, and you have enough transmitters in the air to power your fleet of hundreds or thousands of these robots, why not just dispense with the robots and cook all your enemies at once, in their skins, and be done with the fighting?
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:33 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Presumably the 20 mile figure refers to the range on the internal fuel tank. If you sacrifice some cargo-carrying capacity for fuel, you can probably extend that a great deal. Diesel is extremely energy-dense, so that any other battery system would probably be a dramatic step down.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:43 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, none of you did it, so I did it.
posted by davejay at 10:43 PM on September 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Once we have thousands of these on a battlefield we probably will have powerful beams from an airplane or space. It isn't so crazy,we have wireless power for cellphones already. Why not just beam people to death? That's inhumane. So only high value targets in secret.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:56 PM on September 11, 2012




One app I see is to take point going into a known difficult position to spy out defenses with a camera.

Eh, mini-UAVs have been in country for a while now. Skylark.

Yeah, I don't think this is exactly recon ready, but it will help with deployment of FOBs and so on.

Long-term, of course, this points to robotic fighting units, much as drones are taking over battlefield roles once the domain of manned vehicles.
posted by dhartung at 11:01 PM on September 11, 2012


we're still stuck with 19th century tech to power it. If we don't advance out energy storage technology significantly in the coming years, our fighting mechs are going to be stuck with umbilical cables and five minute batteries,

Energy storage? What about heatsinks.
posted by Chuckles at 11:21 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't help but think that dropping a cargo copter down 10 miles from the destination, unloading these mules, pulling the copter back up to safety, then coming back later after the mules have traveled 10 miles, dumped cargo, and traveled back...well, that's plenty good range for me (assuming that's 10 miles from where you're gonna get shot, or 10 miles from a place where you can safely fly a helicopter in.)
posted by davejay at 11:29 PM on September 11, 2012


secretdark: "Serious question: what do the BD bots have that a donkey doesn't?

Calmer under fire. Able, presumably, to eventually actual take fire. No need for water or food (though, granted, I imagine they require a lot of battery-power.) Reusable. Easily shippable. Programmable.
Lots, really.
"

More repairable than a donkey?

(And it doesn't poop?)
posted by Samizdata at 11:43 PM on September 11, 2012


445supermag: "A robot called Cheetah has set a new world speed record for legged robots, running faster than the fastest human.
Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, has mixed feelings about the development.
"It's an incredible technical achievement, but it's unfortunate that it's going to be used to kill people," he suggested.
"It's going to be used for chasing people across the desert, I would imagine. I can't think of many civilian applications - maybe for hunting, or farming, for rounding up sheep.
"But of course if it's used for combat, it would be killing civilians as well as it's not going to be able to discriminate between civilians and soldiers."
Darpa's press release for the Cheetah project suggested that the robots might ultimately be used in "emergency response, humanitarian assistance and other defence missions".
"

Wow, that is so...unimpressive. No knees, it's on a pole, and it runs...straight. Sure, I can see so MANY uses for it. And I bet Usain Bolt can do stairs too.
posted by Samizdata at 11:53 PM on September 11, 2012


Just wait til there's a turret mounted machine gun on the back of that thing. No more need for battlefield soldiers.
posted by dazed_one at 11:54 PM on September 11, 2012


Joakim Ziegler: "curious nu: "2) IT'S A ROBOT DONKEY. How is that not the most awesome thing you've seen today? Are you holding out on something better?"

I'm holding out for a Hero!

I'm sorry.
"

Been there, done that. There's a post around here detailing how I used to use/programmed one to pick up chicks while working at a science museum in the mid-80's.
posted by Samizdata at 11:55 PM on September 11, 2012


That Cheetah, the land-speed record-holder, does look like an early alpha of the Rat Thing's body.
posted by holist at 11:55 PM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's the stuff of nightmares in that if you were hiking and this thing stumbled out of the bush your only logical conclusion would be that it was sent to kill you and it looks pretty fucking good at it.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:05 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


To make it the real stuff of nightmares it should speak non-stop with Eddie Murphy's Donkey voice.
posted by elgilito at 1:08 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


That video is hilarious if you imagine it trying to be a stealthy assassin, especially given all the low angle shots of it emerging from bushes and following someone. VRRRRRR IGNORE ME HUMAN RRRRRRR KEEEP WALKING VRRRRR.

The torso wheel things look interesting, I wonder if they're completely self righting now.

> Serious question: what do the BD bots have that a donkey doesn't?

They're not living animals? I imagine pack mules have a pretty hard life.
posted by lucidium at 1:29 AM on September 12, 2012


Boston Dynamics makes some seriously creepy machines. The three I saw all mimic some sort of animal mobility methodology which is brilliant. Might as well leverage millions of years of evolution as the foundation for your creepy robots. I could see this one saving lives in a mine blowout or collapse used to navigate or dig a small passageway and deliver tools, water, oxygen and food.

The weird froggy-footed bastard is absolutely unstoppable.
posted by Skygazer at 1:35 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


A robot called Cheetah has set a new world speed record for legged robots, running faster than the fastest human.
Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, has mixed feelings about the development.
"It's an incredible technical achievement, but it's unfortunate that it's going to be used to kill people," he suggested.
Anyone remember the super fast razors-wielding terrifying killer govt robot dog in Fahrenheit 451 used by to murder non-conformists and undesirables (people with too much imagination and passion)? All of these BD products are precursors to something like that eventually, sadly...unless of course they're being programmed with Asimov's 3 laws of robotics.

Although these are simply load bearing platforms at this point, but if the can correct for weight, terrain, angle, ground texture, how easy is to hook one of these up to a facial or weapons recognition system, equip guns that can be aimed with lasers on targets....

This technology is so cool and impressive, until you realize where it's going and the eventual inevitable killing function is, indeed, nightmarish.
posted by Skygazer at 1:57 AM on September 12, 2012


Carry 400 lbs 20 miles without refueling, then kick somebody's ass: 4 grunts.

Carry 800 lbs 10 miles and set up a defensive bunker with a heavy machine gun: 4 grunts and one of these, which you can send back on supply runs as often as you like. Just give it some waypoints and off it goes.

Automated supply truck is probably the best use for it right now. It doesn't need to scale rock walls, it just need to follow a pothole-riddled dirt road from a supply depot out to forward positions.

(autonomously for the most part, something neither mules nor horses could do)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:00 AM on September 12, 2012


Oh ffs people, these are research and development units. No one is deploying the robot cheetah on a pole that can only run straight. I'm sure whatever generation of LS3 that goes into operation will go more than 20 miles. Boston Dynamics, and DARPA as well, only focus on early stage technology development. They do not commercialize technology. They do not deploy things into theatre. They build the shit that no one has ever built before because the technology hasn't existed yet.

Don't worry. When the robot cheetah comes after you, you won't be able to outrun it just by turning left.

As to why we want a mule: because soldiers are currently loaded up with a shitload of gear they have to carry around. Now you've got something that can tackle rough terrain without falling over that can carry that stuff for them. And yeah, "it can only go 20 miles"... how far can your average 200 lb soldier wearing another 75 lbs of armor and gear go in one haul on a hot desert day?

Also, whoever had the theory about the mad scientists and Boston Dynamics: I know a lot of the people there (as well as one of the DARPA PMs they work with) and all I'm going to say is, I like this theory.
posted by olinerd at 2:15 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Man, if a robot that walks moderately well is enough for you to freak out sideways, maybe the future isn't for you.

I mean, it's okay, but it's nowhere as cool as I've been waiting for since I was 12. Maybe future shock is the new human evolution.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:17 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's also worth noting that the guy leading the giant ridable hexpod project learned lots of what he knows at BDI. So yeah. Mad scientists.
posted by olinerd at 2:17 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Better than a mule? Sure - no chemical or bio sensitivity.
posted by cromagnon at 3:24 AM on September 12, 2012


Calmer under fire. Able, presumably, to eventually actual take fire. No need for water or food (though, granted, I imagine they require a lot of battery-power.) Reusable. Easily shippable. Programmable.

But can it love?
posted by Ritchie at 3:40 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Serious question: what do the BD bots have that a donkey doesn't?

The desire to KILL ALL HUMANS.


You haven't met any donkeys before, have you?

Better than a mule? Sure - no chemical or bio sensitivity.

Less sensitivity, perhaps, but I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't take nitric acid, phosphorus or napalm very well either...

Anyway, I'd say that the unique "advantage" of this contraption with respect to donkeys and mules is that of...absorbing enough DARPA funds to keep its makers living in style for the rest of their lives.
posted by Skeptic at 3:42 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Olinerd: Don't worry. When the robot cheetah comes after you, you won't be able to outrun it just by turning left.

I will destroy it with this very creepy lovely little fellow.
posted by Skygazer at 3:55 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


A robot called Cheetah has set a new world speed record for legged robots

I'm not convinced. Watch the end of the video. It's being held upright by an arm that isn't visible because it's hidden behind the body of the machine. So this isn't really a legged robot, it's not capable of freestanding motion at any speed. All you can say is that it's a test platform for legs that can move in sync with a treadmill going 28mph.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:36 AM on September 12, 2012


"You haven't met any donkeys before, have you?"

I second that quite firmly!

And, at the risk of being off topic, they often act on their desire with stealth and low cunning.

Something the robotic version is not likely to do in the near future (within a year) and is, in my view, unlikely to do in the medium future (next 20 years).
posted by holist at 5:31 AM on September 12, 2012


Serious question: what do the BD bots have that a donkey doesn't?

Donkeys (and horses) run on hay and oats, which are low energy-density and bulky fuel sources. During WW1, 20% of the Cross-Channel supply freight from the UK to France was devoted to horse fodder. Gasoline (or LiION batteries are much more compact and efficient).

Donkeys and horses require maintenance—lots of it: feeding, cleaning, vet care, regular rest and sleep.

Donkeys and horses don't play well with poison gas, gunfire (either noise or actual light arms injuries). They can't be modded to cross deep or dangerous rivers, and they aren't happy about operating in sub-zero or greater-than-forty (celsius) temperatures.

Equines have an IR heat signature and can't easily be stealthed.

Equines can't be casually dropped out of the back of a C-130 while carrying 250Kg of munitions and expected to find their way across a battlefield to the soldiers who are pinned down by enemy fire. Defending themselves en route, if necessary.

Want me to continue?
posted by cstross at 5:38 AM on September 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


The technology is amazing, but I still don't get how this is better than a wheeled system. An autonomous hybrid electric "ATV" would:

- Have a higher payload
- Have similar off-road abilities (smart electric motors driving each wheel independently could have better characteristics than mere 4wd)
- Be more fuel efficient
- Have a top speed on flat ground at least an order of magnitude higher
posted by CaseyB at 5:55 AM on September 12, 2012


ATTACK OF THE BATTLE COWS!
posted by Vindaloo at 6:07 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do android donkeys dream of electric hay?
posted by The Violet Cypher at 6:08 AM on September 12, 2012


But seriously. This pretty neat. The main advantage of course is that you don't have the terrain destroying tracks that a similar treaded or wheeled robot would have; so for small scouting expeditions where cover is essential this could be a very useful asset (camouflage it as cattle for extra protection).
posted by Vindaloo at 6:09 AM on September 12, 2012


Equines can't be casually dropped out of the back of a C-130 while carrying 250Kg of munitions

Well, they could, not sure how they feel about skydiving though...
posted by MikeMc at 6:54 AM on September 12, 2012


BigDog Weaponized.
posted by maryr at 7:13 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Equines can't be casually dropped out of the back of a C-130 while carrying 250Kg of munitions

Wrong
posted by Skeptic at 7:25 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Mark V Ogre will call this, "granddaddy."
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:58 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Stuff of Nightmares ceases abruptly with this video when you pair it with Eight Days a Week by the Beatles.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:58 AM on September 12, 2012


Q: What do the BD bots have that a donkey doesn't?
A: The desire to KILL ALL HUMANS.
---posted by His thoughts were red thoughts


Clearly you haven't spent much time around donkeys.
posted by workerant at 8:20 AM on September 12, 2012


Ugh, I've used donkeys for mobile storage before. They are terrible. They are dumb, stubborn, noisy, smelly, and really can't carry much weight, because much of it has to be their own feed. God, they suck. One pushed me off a path into a stream. Donkeys blow
posted by MangyCarface at 8:35 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


You should upgrade to OS Mule, Mangy.
posted by Mister_A at 8:51 AM on September 12, 2012


Look at how it waggles its head around at the end of the video. So pleased with itself!
posted by orme at 9:12 AM on September 12, 2012


Semi-autonomous wheeled vehicles were done for the original DARPA grand challenge... I'd be inclined to believe that an ATV (even a smart one with 4 electric motors) simply doesn't have the same mobility trade-offs as legs.
posted by fragmede at 9:28 AM on September 12, 2012


It's a horse, that has to be refueled every 20 miles. How is this an improvement over an actual horse (or donkey)? Am I missing something?

A horse needs care, feeding and rest. And if man is moving to a dyson sphere kind of existence where every photon matters - it takes far more photons to make the grass grow (photon conversion rate of what, 1% conversion rate for grass) then for the critter to convert the grass to be able to move.

The animal needs training and time to 'grow up'.

The machine 'grow up' time will not be the time/energy needed to get the metals from ground to factory but just the time from the roll and ingot into the machine at the end of the line. Production would be measured in days for a device that can sit for long stretches of time just waiting for use.

And at the "end' of the lifespan of the robot - you can just use 'em to carry a bomb for that last 20 mile walk.
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/09/suicidal-drone-6-miles-away/
posted by rough ashlar at 9:52 AM on September 12, 2012


It's a horse, that has to be refueled every 20 miles. How is this an improvement over an actual horse (or donkey)? Am I missing something?

Others have pointed out that this thing would handle being on a noisy battlefield a lot better and would respond to getting hit by small arms fire a lot better. I'm also thinking the days aren't far off where the carrying capacity increases on this thing to the point that it can be up-armored to take heavier caliber weapons fire without issue as well.

Not to mention the inevitable next step where it goes from taking fire to actively returning it. Put a remote-controlled turret on top with a .50 caliber gun and a grenade launcher and all of the squad can stay safely tucked behind the ridge while they send these things forward to draw enemy fire and neutralize what they can before moving the squad into harm's way. At some point the squad will no longer be necessary and these things could be deployed in packs, backed up by a few UAVs with air to ground missiles.
posted by barc0001 at 10:11 AM on September 12, 2012


Gekkos will be next.
posted by hellphish at 11:25 AM on September 12, 2012


It's a horse, that has to be refueled every 20 miles. How is this an improvement over an actual horse (or donkey)? Am I missing something?

Lockheed Martin can't build horses.
posted by LordSludge at 1:12 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I still don't get how this is better than a wheeled system.

If you look at some of their demos (not just this one but of the earlier prototypes), they show it going over very rough terrain, stuff that I am not sure that an ATV would be able to manage. Certainly not terrain that I'd want to drive an ATV over (too much tipover risk), although maybe a very skilled rider could.

But if you think of it just in terms of ground clearance, a hexapod or quadruped robot has significant greater abilities for getting over obstacles. For a wheeled vehicle to be able to do the same thing, you'd probably need to have a 6x6 configuration (to avoid approach/departure angle limitations), and it would still be hard to make it self-righting. And it couldn't move directly laterally, either.

All that said though, the military has a lot of wheeled vehicles and I suspect that the vision and control system for a walking robot could be pretty easily retrofitted to a wheeled vehicle if there was a desire for one.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:32 PM on September 12, 2012


Lockheed Martin can't build horses.

AAAAAA++++ would favour that again.

(and yea, noise + small arms/shrapnel are not gonna make your animal based dog/pony show happy)
posted by rough ashlar at 1:55 PM on September 12, 2012




Not to mention the inevitable next step where it goes from taking fire to actively returning it. Put a remote-controlled turret on top with a .50 caliber gun and a grenade launcher and all of the squad can stay safely tucked behind the ridge while they send these things forward to draw enemy fire and neutralize what they can before moving the squad into harm's way. At some point the squad will no longer be necessary and these things could be deployed in packs, backed up by a few UAVs with air to ground missiles

As the Senator from the State of Outrage will note, there are no soldiers deployed VS the occupy movement. The mandriods will soon restore order in the market.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:56 PM on September 12, 2012


These things show up in Robopocalypse: A Novel . Stupid name, and it's basically World War Z but not bad for hard sci-fi.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 11:40 AM on September 13, 2012


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