Robot Dog
March 18, 2008 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Amazing video of BigDog. Described by its developer, Boston Dynamics, as "The Most Advanced Quadruped Robot on Earth."
posted by qldaddy (106 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oops, via, obviously.
posted by qldaddy at 8:36 AM on March 18, 2008


Wow, crazy. Its leg movements are so natural that, at times, it looks like two people in black leotards with a big box covering their heads.
posted by mkultra at 8:37 AM on March 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that thing is right out of one of my nightmares. The buzzing noise doesn't help.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:40 AM on March 18, 2008


Wow. That's *really* coordinated movement - and the recovery after being shoved and on frozen surfaces is incredible. 340 lb payload too!
posted by Zinger at 8:42 AM on March 18, 2008


Double

I think they just put their video up on YouTube, which is why everyone is suddenly talking about it again.
posted by DU at 8:42 AM on March 18, 2008


This is a pretty worthwhile update even if it is a double. The original video was impressive -- this one is getting close to science fiction.
posted by tkolar at 8:47 AM on March 18, 2008


Isn't it an update, not a double?
posted by cashman at 8:48 AM on March 18, 2008


I'd like to admire this and yet I am, like Dave Faris, petrified by its appearance!
posted by Glow Bucket at 8:49 AM on March 18, 2008


I said this before in the America's Assassination Problem thread where this was linked, but I made it about 2/3 of the way through that video before I had a full on panic attack. Those crazy fucking legs and the way it staggers , gah. I think that was my first ever actual case of future shock. Also what now of my plan to just stomp kick any evil four legged robot in its breadbasket and run away while it struggled to get up? That fucker won't stay down.

Does anyone remember those little PBS shorts (maybe on Sesame St, maybe on electric company or just used as filler or something with the three people in black leotards and one or more had toilet paper rolls for a face and they did mime and oh hell I used to see it every time I was home with a fever and that was the first thing I thought of when I saw that video. I used to love robots, but now I think I hate them.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:52 AM on March 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


Loudest too. Mount a gatling on this thing and we're screwed.
posted by Scoo at 8:53 AM on March 18, 2008


Um, yeah, what cashman said, it was an update! 'Cause I'm not the kind of doofus who would search for Robot and Robotdog and Bigdog and then totally miss not one, but two Bigdog links in a previous post. Nope. Not me. I am a completely different kind of doofus.
posted by qldaddy at 8:55 AM on March 18, 2008


It certainly looks like an update from the link I posted, but I'm also pretty sure that I've seen portions of this new video before.

But it's all good. More robots!
posted by DU at 8:57 AM on March 18, 2008


Also what now of my plan to just stomp kick any evil four legged robot in its breadbasket and run away while it struggled to get up?

Suspiciously absent from the videos are any signs of the robot getting up. Or falling down or getting stuck, for that matter. For that matter it's not clear how often it actually recovers from a good kick to the size.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.
posted by tkolar at 8:58 AM on March 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


"kick to the side", not size...
posted by tkolar at 8:59 AM on March 18, 2008


I kept expecting a tiny X-Wing to take it down with a tow cable.

Seriously, though-- that was very impressive, particularly the rebalancing after being kicked and trying to walk on ice. I did notice that they didn't show the robot righting itself from a prone position. If it gets knocked over, can it get back up again?

(And Divine_Wino, you're thinking of Mummenschanz.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:59 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm going to have nightmares of the killer attack robot dog from Fahrenheit 451 now, tyvm.
posted by noble_rot at 8:59 AM on March 18, 2008


Divine_Wino : Mummenschanz
posted by Dave Faris at 8:59 AM on March 18, 2008


Can I be having an uncanny valley problem over legs? Because like others, I am both awed and totally fucking creeped out by that. The fact that the front legs appear to bend backwards relative to what I'd expect just adds to the creepiness.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:59 AM on March 18, 2008


Does anyone remember those little PBS shorts (maybe on Sesame St, maybe on electric company or just used as filler or something with the three people in black leotards and one or more had toilet paper rolls for a face and they did mime and oh hell I used to see it every time I was home with a fever and that was the first thing I thought of when I saw that video.

Mummenschanz on the Muppet Show
posted by qldaddy at 9:00 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn, I am just not doing well at the whole Meta-thing today.
posted by qldaddy at 9:03 AM on March 18, 2008


I'll just hope to avoid robies.
posted by grubi at 9:03 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It looks more like a giant four-legged fly than a dog, to me. Which is even creepier.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:04 AM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow, that freaked me out more than 2 Girls 1 Cup and Castration By Hatchet. Between the noise,co-ordination, and the bundles on the end that resembled eyes, I had to stop after 20 seconds.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:08 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn; I'm gonna need a bigger gun.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:10 AM on March 18, 2008


Around 2:20 it’s very reminiscent of the early Honda Asimo prototypes, which looked like 2 meter square borg cubes with human-sized legs sticking out under it… terrifying. Particularly in 1980s research labs.

But, we're all acting like these are freaky, novel things, when we're forgetting our historical future.

Did anyone notice it's little brother or any of the other crazy stuff cyberd...I mean Boston Dynamics are pushing out?

And does anyone else instantly start thinking of "Aperture Science "when they hear such a generic, technological name as Boston Dynamics?
posted by davemee at 9:11 AM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I tried it again. Unfortunately, I zipped the slider to the slow-mo ice test segment, and almost lost my shit. That thing is freaky.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:11 AM on March 18, 2008


Thanks Gents.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:11 AM on March 18, 2008


Saw this yesterday. Cool but creeeeepy. Yeah, pretty much "oh shit", relentless robot assassin drone, good for subduing civilian populations without any inconvenient mercy now or remorse later. We need the laws of robotics now, and we're not going to get them because it's all DARPA paying for it and our effing population will say "if you're not doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear from the robot wolves."

The fact that the front legs appear to bend backwards

I think there's no front and back, it's reversible (?).
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:14 AM on March 18, 2008


Mount a gatling on this thing and we're screwed.

s/gatling/dildo-gun/g
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:15 AM on March 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


This pack mule is sounding better and better. I don't have to worry about any squeamish, luddite muggers (unless they try to nuke me from orbit, to be sure).
posted by DU at 9:17 AM on March 18, 2008


i figured out that the lack of a head on this thing just makes it even more uncanny valley for me.

*twitch*
posted by rmd1023 at 9:19 AM on March 18, 2008


I made it about 2/3 of the way through that video before I had a full on panic attack. [...] I think that was my first ever actual case of future shock.

I imagine this is a shadow of how the Mayans felt when confronted with Cortes' horses.
posted by Leon at 9:22 AM on March 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


A sentient future version of Big Dog will keep a collar on your neck and take you for a walk.
posted by The Straightener at 9:24 AM on March 18, 2008


You'd think we'd learned nothing from those who warned us of the dangers of robot abuse.

In other news, the guy who shoved Big Dog was found mysteriously robot-kicked to death.
posted by anazgnos at 9:24 AM on March 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


I would totally strap that to my chest and jump out of an airplane.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:28 AM on March 18, 2008


two words: cow tipping
posted by quonsar at 9:30 AM on March 18, 2008


Pfft. What does this robot dog do that a real dog couldn't?

I find that the military is underusing the animal kingdom. Imagine this. You're a resistance fighter in some Baghdad back alley shooting your POS AK-47 that hooks every shot to the left, and suddenly you see a goddamn U.S. Army-issue rhinoceros charging towards you. What are you going to do, shoot it? It's a fucking rhinoceros.

So you keep your lego mindstorms puppy. Better keep a few thousand D-batteries around, though just in case puppy gets hungry. Me? I'll stick with my rhino, my fleet of vampire bats, and my meerkat spies. You want to send your "drones" after me? Be my guest. I'll be the one riding the giraffe, with saddle bags full of squirrels, and a falcon on my arm.

Oh, and did I mention they were flying squirrels?
posted by Pastabagel at 9:31 AM on March 18, 2008 [17 favorites]


Screw it, I'll just eat my homework myself.
posted by aftermarketradio at 9:33 AM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


By the way, did anyone notice that BigDog weighs 235 lbs but its payload limit is 340 lbs?
That means one of these can ride another. Into battle. Against you.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:39 AM on March 18, 2008 [18 favorites]


I felt sorry for the little guy after that jackass kicked it. What an asshole! With that said...

"Watch out for those Hunters—they're traveling in packs! Uh-oh... strider at what's left of the sawmill!"
posted by infinitewindow at 9:45 AM on March 18, 2008


Leon, you are thinking of the Aztecs.

Also it may be because I watched this without the sound on, but I thought it was cute, and I felt bad for a second when it was kicked. If it didnt have crappy battery life (it pretty much has to) then I would love to use one of these things to carry all my crap backpacking.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:47 AM on March 18, 2008


Pfft. What does this robot dog do that a real dog couldn't?

NOT shit on the rug?

Anyway, this is really amazing. Great link. Couple this thing with ASIMO and we're in trouble as a species in about ten years.

Pretty soon some asshole will think of strapping explosives to these things and the day of the suicide bomber will be no more...
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:48 AM on March 18, 2008


I felt like a character in an H. P. Lovecraft story, gazing upon some nameless, headless Old One spawn. A thing that shouldn't be. Especially watching it flail like a dumb and blind calf on the ice. The legs, ohhhhh, the legs... My God, why did we ever leave the cool, damp caves? What black-hearted ancestor of ours first lifted a firebrand, thinking to advance the fate of humanity only to set us down this path of our own hopeless undoing? The legs... The black, stomping Bakelite legs, honed and tested in the Blasted Heath, enthusiastically crafted to fill the grim roll of gingerly picking a path across a landscape of crushed skulls and shattered, broken civilization, like a pair of mad, decapitated mimes, fixed together at the aborted stump of the shoulders...
posted by BeerFilter at 9:49 AM on March 18, 2008 [19 favorites]


What, exactly, is the buzzing? In the in-lab portion the robot is virtually silent, but there are all sorts of cables attached to a frame. Does the buzzing emit from a power source? If it does, is that power source a weed-wacker?
posted by elwoodwiles at 9:49 AM on March 18, 2008


Strap a gatling gun to it, wrap it in bacon, and we're ready to send it back to 1984 and terminate Sarah Connor.
posted by ooga_booga at 9:53 AM on March 18, 2008


What, exactly, is the buzzing? Does the buzzing emit from a power source?

It's powered by bees.
posted by martinrebas at 9:54 AM on March 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


BobbyDigital: I was thinking of the Itza worshipping Cortes' horse, and offering it meat and flowers.
posted by Leon at 9:57 AM on March 18, 2008


Holy shizzle. It's a ROBOT DOG powered by BEES?

we are so fucked.
posted by grubi at 10:02 AM on March 18, 2008


Oh, so that's where all the bees went!
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:03 AM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Not bees, bee venom.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:03 AM on March 18, 2008


I would love to use one of these things to carry all my crap backpacking.

Yes. A pack mule ... FOR THE NINE RINGS OF HELL!!

(package tours are forming now.)
posted by Dave Faris at 10:04 AM on March 18, 2008


Looks like a camp pantomime horse to me.
posted by rongorongo at 10:07 AM on March 18, 2008


For $10 million and possibly more, I want them to put a head on that thing and replace the 2 hour gas tank with a freaking fuel cell or something. It looks incredibly bad. I suppose they want to freak people out with them, or possibly it's the stereotypical design engineer's function over form problem. Either way, at least put a vest or something on it.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:11 AM on March 18, 2008


I look forward to being pursued across the smouldering rubble of our once-gleaming cities by this bugger's grandson. I can hear my own desperate, panting voice now: "Avoid the ice... it's got the beating of you on the ice...".
posted by flashboy at 10:13 AM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Can't see the video, but the writeup says it's powered by a gasoline engine.

Even in stills the backward knee joints are creepy, even though I grok the engineering reason for doing it that way.
posted by localroger at 10:16 AM on March 18, 2008


I suppose they want to freak people out with them,

A decapitated, high-speed, articulated machine with the grace of a mountain goat, racing across rough terrain directly at you all whilst buzzing like a chainsaw?

If they weren't going for 'freaky' then they must have some pretty odd ideas about what 'normal' is.
posted by quin at 10:17 AM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Which doesn't in any way mitigate my desire to play with a bunch of these. I have a cattle dog and the idea of watching her herd a bunch of long legged robots is a powerfully awesome idea.
posted by quin at 10:18 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ah ha! Found it! This is like my fave sf magazine cover of all time.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:18 AM on March 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


Uncanny.
posted by OmieWise at 10:22 AM on March 18, 2008


* 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

LobsterMitten: excellent point: consumer robots may get the three laws of robotics*, but Darpa projects definitely won't, in fact will get the reverse... heaven help you if you get on the wrong side of them on the ground!
posted by uni verse at 10:23 AM on March 18, 2008


Don't forget the Zeroth Law, uni verse: "A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm."
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:26 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The internet was created by DARPA. It's TRYING to KILL you RIGHT NOW.
posted by tkolar at 10:29 AM on March 18, 2008


That thing must totally suck at sneaking up on people.
posted by Mister_A at 10:30 AM on March 18, 2008


The three laws are science fiction for a point. Humans can't agree on definitions of "human" and "harm" what chance do nascent AIs have?

Robots get one law: always obey your owner (with possible corollaries for Johnny Law and big red stop buttons where applicable). Your robot kills someone? Negligent homicide baby.
posted by Skorgu at 10:37 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


LittleDog is the sort of ScrappyDoo in the equation. Unlike his big brother he would be content to merely maim I feel.
posted by rongorongo at 10:39 AM on March 18, 2008


Bigdog zoomable illustration.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:45 AM on March 18, 2008


Aww I like LittleDog. It looks like what would happen if my wireless router fucked a Boston Terrier.
posted by Mister_A at 10:47 AM on March 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


It's the weird daintiness of its gait that gets me — the way it sort of prances on rough ground, hopping a little more than it needs to and picking its feet up a little too high.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:47 AM on March 18, 2008


Holy mother of fuck.
posted by slimepuppy at 10:52 AM on March 18, 2008


Cover your robass, ladies and gents.
posted by Paid In Full at 10:54 AM on March 18, 2008


They set a slamhound on Turner's trail in New Delhi, slotted to his pheromones and the color of his hair. It caught up with him on a street named Chandni Chauk and came scrambling for his rented BMW through a forest of bare brown legs and pedicab tires. Its core was a kilogram of recrystalized hexogene and flaked TNT. He didn't see it coming. The last he saw of India was the pink stucco facade of a place called the Khush-Oil Hotel.
posted by stargell at 10:57 AM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well folks it was a good run, but it seems as if the game is up. Let's just all shuffle quietly into the meat processing plants and avoid all that 'resistance' nastiness.
posted by PenDevil at 11:01 AM on March 18, 2008


Damn, different Dog.

I like the part where it frolics in the snow. It also terrifies me to no end.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:04 AM on March 18, 2008


[Terminator voice]: Bigdog - fetch. His head.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:05 AM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


On second viewing, I'm incredibly creeped out at how sad it makes me when BigDog gets kicked.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:05 AM on March 18, 2008


Strap ray guns to a fleet of these, instant martial law and perpetual crowd control.

Stay in your homes. Shut up! Be happy.

More post-apocalyptic mefi please.
posted by cashman at 11:06 AM on March 18, 2008


LittleDog moves like a fucking headcrab.

Lets hope these are just Half Life2: Episode 3 virals.
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:09 AM on March 18, 2008


The comfort you've demanded is now mandatory.

Great line.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:10 AM on March 18, 2008


Here's the T-100 version of BigDog. I'm starting to think it's possible.

Mind you, I'm not saying it's a good idea...
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:11 AM on March 18, 2008


We are doomed. John Connor save us, please!
posted by ericb at 11:18 AM on March 18, 2008


nebulawindphone: It walks exactly like a greyhound. Ever walked a greyhound on a leash? It's like walking a tiny deer.
posted by rusty at 11:22 AM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Cat Pie Hurts: The whole point of robot dogs is that you can kick them without feeling bad.
posted by rusty at 11:25 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The whole point of robot dogs is that you can kick them without feeling bad.
posted by rusty at 2:25 PM on March 18


I thought that's what cats were for.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:41 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


ED 209

(i find myself using this link more and more often, these days)
posted by klanawa at 11:42 AM on March 18, 2008


PUPPY!

Anyone else thing Pastabagle was The Beastmaster in a past life? I'm sure everybody here knows about the Navy dolphins trained to strap ballons to frogmen right?
posted by The Power Nap at 11:42 AM on March 18, 2008


Let's all pray that the robot forgets that guy kicking him in the parking lot before they fit him with the giant claws. Made of bees.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:48 AM on March 18, 2008


Now that BigDog can conquer the wilds of charming historical Waltham, we're almost ready to complete our long-awaited conquest of sub-Alpine Europe, I guess.
posted by ubersturm at 12:02 PM on March 18, 2008


That slipping on ice gave a small glimpse to the logic of that beast, and also explains why it's flat ground steps look so weird. Every leg basically wants to stand up, starting from the lowest part. Bottom of the feet wants to have friction. I suspect they could add two pairs more without changing the programming much. The actual body, it is just getting along and probably sending signals like 'big mass moving to that direction'.
posted by Free word order! at 12:23 PM on March 18, 2008


When it scrambled like that after being kicked, all I could think of was the first time I fought a Hunter in Episode 2... I keep expecting that thing to knock down its handlers and start stomping.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 12:26 PM on March 18, 2008


Big Dog? You mean Bill Clinton?
posted by monospace at 12:39 PM on March 18, 2008


Time to invest in Old Glory Robot Insurance.

Robots are everywhere and they eat old people's medicine for food.

Remember: Persons denying the existence of robots may be robots themselves!
posted by unixrat at 12:40 PM on March 18, 2008


I predict that in 10 years time, Dick Cheney's brain, housed in a glowing bullet-proof jar, will ride one of these things into battle against humanity.
posted by maryh at 12:45 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Um...double. From March 2006
posted by Balisong at 1:28 PM on March 18, 2008


Once this thing teams up with this daschund cannon reloader(Youtube link) I believe the quadripeds, both mechanical and biological, will finally have the upper hand.
posted by PenDevil at 2:04 PM on March 18, 2008


Um...double. From March 2006

Double. From 8:42 AM.
posted by tkolar at 2:18 PM on March 18, 2008


Guy_Inamonkeysuit : you just gained all credibility. Not many people know that.
posted by uni verse at 3:13 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's all fine until one night, when you're out camping, and as you huddle in your sleeping bag you hear a distant noise. ReeeReeeReeeReee. As it gets louder you can hear the feet as they trample through the undergrowth.

It's coming for you. It's not fast, but it's not stopping either. Think you can average a speed of a few kph for 24 hours? Worse yet, someone has attached a My Little Pony head to it, and it's playing the jingle over and over again.
posted by tomble at 5:08 PM on March 18, 2008


"Paul is studying the neurology and artificial intelligence at the local college, and has built a highly functioning robot named BB. Paul makes some new friends; Tom, and a girl named Samantha who lives next door to the Conways. They have a mean old lady, Elvira Parker, for a neighbor who isn't fond of strangers on her property. On Halloween night as a prank, Paul, Tom and Samantha have BB crack the combination lock on her gate so that one of them can walk up and ring Elvira's doorbell to scare her."

Just read that a few times.
posted by tehloki at 5:37 PM on March 18, 2008


BigDog actually made it to the far side of my uncanny valley. I saw it as a living thing, particularly after I'd seen it stagger. Mind you, my first reaction was to instinctively freeze in place while the back parts of my brain decided whether this was a new kind of cow or a new kind of tiger, settling on "cow" when it did not eat the guy who tried to kick it over.

Compared to giant Amazonian centipedes, BigDog's not frightening at all. Not in its current stage of development.

Don't tell DARPA, but they already have the technology to make a carnivorous robot. If they decided that they wanted to keep the buzzing sound for psychological warfare purposes, they could strap on a chainsaw.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:21 PM on March 18, 2008


In a similar vein (heh) our friends at EnglishRussia have a video (with cheesy soundtrack) of a robo-snake. Looks something between a prehensile penis and one of Cthulhu's tentacles. Cue Snakes-Onna-Plane jokes...
posted by ninazer0 at 8:24 PM on March 18, 2008


BigDog actually made it to the far side of my uncanny valley. I saw it as a living thing, particularly after I'd seen it stagger.

This is exactly why we need to educate our children when they are very young to not anthropomorphize. It used to be a question of aesthetics, now it's for their own saftety.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:27 PM on March 18, 2008


yeah, seemed mean to kick it :(
pretty soon they'll be used as beasts of burden
and ridden in competition; saddle up ho, giddy up yo!
posted by kliuless at 8:47 PM on March 18, 2008


I don't want to be kicked either.
posted by bigbigdog at 7:57 AM on March 19, 2008


Important followup BigDog video.
posted by tkolar at 10:28 AM on March 26, 2008


Heh, I was just coming to post that, tkolar. :D
posted by BeerFilter at 12:33 PM on March 30, 2008


My son did his science fair project on Big Dog. I helped him reearch it, and it's left me, someone unfamiliar with robotics, with a lot of questions:

1) How much processing does this thing need? I'm watching the video where it walks over the hill of cinder blocks, and, assuming that each leg and it's articulations need to keep the whole balanced while deciding the depth & grade of the next step or whether the next step is even possible... I just can't fathom how that sort of information flow can be compressed enough for this thing to move faster than a foot a minute. I'm amazed it moves as fast as it does. How did the engineers manage that?

2) How often does it tip over? Can it right itself at least some of the time? If not, is there a quadruped robot in development with a flexing spine?

3) How much communication does Big Dog need to follow a course? In a real time situation, can the robot follow troops on its own, or does it require someone to 'drive' it? Would there be a person dedicated to programming it's course at all times?

4) Energy consumption? It runs on gas and batteries (and maybe BEES), but how much per mile? Haven't seen that addressed.

5) As research, I find this fascinating. But as an aid to troops climbing rocks in Afghanistan, I don't see how this robot is a cost efficient replacement for actual mules.
Don't tell my son tho', he loves this creepy ass thing.
posted by maryh at 11:57 PM on March 31, 2008


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