Robot Cheetah Clears Its Latest Development Hurdle: Jumping Hurdles
May 30, 2015 9:51 AM   Subscribe

This Terrifying Robot Cheetah Can Now Jump Over Things The jump is accomplished by using a three-part algorithm, which interprets data from the robot's onboard LIDAR system. posted by Michele in California (102 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
this is totally bad ass! also i can't stop laughing at the science dude who has the job of running trolly pushing.
posted by nadawi at 9:57 AM on May 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


Please just don't teach it to climb trees. Or burn them down.
posted by notyou at 10:02 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you take the "we need to be careful about creating AI that might not like us" crowd seriously, then giving them robotic cheetah bodies that can out perform humans does seem like a bad idea. On the other hand, having a jumping cheetah robot vehicle to run across rough terrain would be really cool. So, we're either a doomed species or we get nice toys. I'll have cake please.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:04 AM on May 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


When will it be able to tear chunks of human flesh off to convert to fuel?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:20 AM on May 30, 2015 [37 favorites]


Yeah, this is a bad idea. Then again, coming up with bad ideas is what we do best.
posted by eriko at 10:22 AM on May 30, 2015 [18 favorites]


It seems generous to call this "Cheetah" instead of "Jumpy Robo Potato"
posted by Greg Nog at 10:25 AM on May 30, 2015 [57 favorites]


"What you in for?"
"Grand theft auto."
"How'd they get you?"
"Robot cheetah."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:26 AM on May 30, 2015 [21 favorites]


It looks like a lumbering headless cow to me. I find it hard to be terrified. I will save that for when it is, in fact, eating people for fuel.
posted by Michele in California at 10:28 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


I want to ride one.
posted by Poldo at 10:28 AM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Finally. Something that convinces me to go stock up on armor piercing rounds.
posted by mondo dentro at 10:37 AM on May 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


So now we are one step closer to the hound from Fahrenheit 451. Thanks a lot guys.
posted by Hactar at 10:37 AM on May 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


When will it be able to tear chunks of human flesh off to convert to fuel?

E.A.T.R (previously)
posted by XMLicious at 10:42 AM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Coming soon to an urban combat theater near you.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:42 AM on May 30, 2015


Why have 4 legs when the front and rear sets don't move independently? Wake me up when they get it to gallop over those obstacles.
posted by carsonb at 10:43 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


It doesn't bug me in the same way that the big dog does because it doesn't have a moving spine. Even the big dog is okay for me until they shove it or it steps on some ice and needs to correct itself. It moves WAY too much like a real animal for me then.

This moves like a robot and doesn't move enough like an animal to bother me. When they give it a moving, motorized spine, it will look a lot more natural when it's running and jumping, it will add a lot of grace and speed to the movements. When THAT video comes out, I don't want to see it.
posted by VTX at 10:46 AM on May 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


The last development hurdle will be when robocheetah chases down robogazelle rips it open and takes it's batteries.
posted by sammyo at 10:55 AM on May 30, 2015 [20 favorites]


Cheetah doesn't make me want to shit myself in the same way that Big Dog because it doesn't do that terrifying stomping like a drunk angry robot sumo wrestler.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:58 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Please let them call it a Slamhound.
posted by stargell at 11:01 AM on May 30, 2015 [12 favorites]


> Please just don't teach it to climb trees. Or burn them down.

Now you've done it!
posted by cleroy at 11:08 AM on May 30, 2015


This is how the world ends; not with a bang but with a ratcheting metallic blur, a scream quickly cut off, and then silence.
posted by emjaybee at 11:13 AM on May 30, 2015 [11 favorites]


It seems generous to call this "Cheetah" instead of "Jumpy Robo Potato"

On the other hand, it seems unfair to deprive the world of the phrase Jumpy Robo Potato
posted by clockzero at 11:14 AM on May 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


Even the big dog is okay for me until they shove it or it steps on some ice and needs to correct itself

I'd forgotten about that.

I bet Big Dog hasn't.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:18 AM on May 30, 2015 [23 favorites]




I don't care what they look like...these things always terrify me because I can't help but think they're being designed with non-military targets in mind.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:30 AM on May 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


It seems generous to call this "Cheetah" instead of "Jumpy Robo Potato"

Say that to its, er, face!
posted by chavenet at 11:32 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


No need to be concerned - there are many easy ways to interfere with the robot's current LIDAR system, effectively making it blind (and deaf in a way, explained below).

LIDAR uses lasers to "see" instead of radio waves, like RADAR does. However, LIDAR can also be used to track ground vibrations as well, so even if there is any kind barrier between you and the robot, it could use the LIDAR to 'hear' you by measuring the vibrations of the barrier that are caused by sounds.

Therefore, you need to combine two sets of interference and noise, one to disrupt the lasers themselves, and another to drown out the vibrations of your movement. The following methods will significantly impede the robot's ability to not only track you, but be aware of its immediate surroundings:
1) The tired and true 'blanket' method - cover the LIDAR sensors to block primary ranging. (a more daring example would be similar to how a bullfighter uses a cape)
2) A combo of good old fashioned glitter or aluminum foil cut into confetti-sized pieces, made as light as possible so that they are suspended in air for as long as possible.
3) One could even take a disco ball, fill it with glitter and foil, and add a few of the largest firecrackers you can get your hands on, plus a few of those smaller firecrackers that are all strung together in different sizes on the inner walls of the disco ball, light the fuse on the firecrackers and throw. This does three things - one, the multifaceted mirrors on the disco ball makes it hard for the system to identify as it approaches, two the larger firecrackers disperse the reflective glitter and foil, and the smaller firecrackers then go off, disrupting the ability to 'hear' with the lasers. Having a variety of smaller firecrackers will help, as it will create noise on multiple sound frequencies.
4) "Dazzle" it with your own lasers - disrupt or even damage the receptors that receive the lasers it sends out. Damaging these sensors with more powerful lasers would be more effective, as the sensors are most likely looking for a particular wavelength, and a simple light show would not be sufficient to create the 'white noise' necessary to impair it.
5) A barrier could be created by stringing up chicken wire and then electrifying it with house current (100v or 220v). The thin wire may be missed by the LIDAR or seen as insignificant by the system. Once it runs into it, the chicken wire would collapse around it and possibly fry it, depending on its outer casing.
6) Larger rope nets would also be useful in catching the robot by its legs, as long as the net is attached to a couple strong anchor points to hold it there.
7) White noise generators that have a strong low-frequency aspect can also be used to obfuscate the robots LIDAR hearing when it is trying to locate a... um... "target."
8) If you combine the white noise with something akin to Dune's 'Thumpers' would help as well, especially in a building, if a few of them were banging on plumbing and pipes that would carry throughout the building's interior.
See? There's nothing to worry about. One trip to a big hardware store, a craft store, and a novelty/party store, and you're all set.
posted by chambers at 11:34 AM on May 30, 2015 [29 favorites]


When will it be able to tear chunks of human flesh off to convert to fuel?--Burhanistan

Maybe if they combine this with the Ecobot?
posted by eye of newt at 11:41 AM on May 30, 2015


Dazzle counter measures are pretty common these days, most armoured vehicles have sensors and can pin down any laser flashed at them instantly.
posted by furtive at 11:42 AM on May 30, 2015


OK, yeah, the galloping video IS as terrifying as i thought it could be.
posted by bird internet at 11:45 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Terrifying indeed, but awesome nonetheless. Watching it stumble and pick itself back up was perhaps the most terrifying part. Also, that bit leads me to believe that we're not quite to the point of a galloping + obstacle-clearing Jumpy Robo Potato™.
posted by carsonb at 11:49 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dazzle counter measures are pretty common these days, most armoured vehicles have sensors and can pin down any laser flashed at them instantly.

The problem with using Dazzle technology that works on humans is that it would be less effective on a militarized robot that undoubtedly would have filters to block out everything but the wavelengths it needs. At that point, damaging the sensors is far more effective than jamming them in this way.

Oh, I thought of one more:
9) Use a thick, sticky, opaque liquid, like asphalt tar or paint. Just find a way to cover the sensors with heavy paint - thrown directly at them from a bucket, fired from a hose or even a modified super soaker water gun, or put into thing like bags or balloons to be thrown, or one could even rig up a 'paint shotgun' - it would act in a similar manner to those little 'party popper' bottles, but this could fire anything from a quart to a gallon of paint or tar right into it's eyes. It could even be a static trap, sort of like a tar/paint version of a claymore mine.
posted by chambers at 11:52 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you're going to go that far, why not armor piercing rounds?
posted by Splunge at 11:59 AM on May 30, 2015


or you could kick it
posted by Greg Nog at 12:04 PM on May 30, 2015 [17 favorites]


You know that once you pop your paint popper, it'll just spray bullets in the direction the paint was thrown from, right? Or if you damage it enough, self destruct. Or call in a drone strike.

But really, what's point? To destroy enough robot pigs that the US stops doing whatever it's doing? To make the US military run out of robots? I don't think you can 'win' by blowing up the other side's military robots. You clearly have to go after their civilian populace back home.
posted by ryanrs at 12:05 PM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


If you're going to go that far, why not armor piercing rounds?

Quality AP rounds are expensive. Not only that, but you have to not only hit it, but hit it in the right spot, and do this all as it is running before it gets to you.

I'm an OK shot, but if put in such a situation, I'd rather incapacitate it as much as possible and put it down afterwards. But really what I'm getting at here is that militarized robots are still a long way off. Until they can get a robot that can defend, adapt, and respond to the lowest of low-tech approaches to disabling it, they will not be a useful combat asset. If this is not addressed, you could just throw money at the problem and deploy them in massive waves, but the cost/benefit at that point becomes a much greater concern.
posted by chambers at 12:08 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


or you could kick it

They already thought of that. It's creepy.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:09 PM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


...these things always terrify me because I can't help but think they're being designed with non-military targets in mind.

There's no such thing as a "non-military" target.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:11 PM on May 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


or you could kick it

Nope - they addressed that in 2008 with Big Dog. I don't know how much of the stabilization system in Big Dog was put into the Cheetah, but the basic defense against that has already been done.
posted by chambers at 12:13 PM on May 30, 2015


Just carry a bag of robot treats with you. "Who's a good robot? Is it you? Yes it's you! It's you!"

Of course, it may turn out a human being is a robot treat, in which case the best defense will be tripping the nearest companion and running like heck.
posted by maxwelton at 12:19 PM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


they addressed that in 2008 with Big Dog

God that video is still creepy.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:21 PM on May 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


The problem I have with The Terminator movies is the idea that scrappy humans with a can-do attitude will be able to survive and resist the super-intelligent Skynet by outwitting it. The older I get, the more certain I am that, if there is a Skynet situation in the future, humans will be wiped out completely in fairly short order.

I would also like cake.
posted by double block and bleed at 12:22 PM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


But really, what's point? To destroy enough robot pigs that the US stops doing whatever it's doing? To make the US military run out of robots? I don't think you can 'win' by blowing up the other side's military robots.

I was thinking about preparedness and survival in that particular moment, if one knew a militarized version of this robot was a possible threat. As I said a couple comments up, until they address the robot's vulnerability to 'weaponized household items,' a large force of militarized robots in the field will not be worth the cost.

Now, that's not to say that in 10-15 years combat versions of robots like the Cheetah might be useful in a small 'pack' of 6-8 that accompany spec-ops units, or are effective as independent scouts, but on a larger scale, it's not a feasible solution.

The other thing to consider is that if the tech inside them is way ahead of everyone else, capturing them and selling them off to other rival countries will become a very big security risk.
posted by chambers at 12:23 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nope - they addressed that in 2008 with Big Dog. I don't know how much of the stabilization system in Big Dog was put into the Cheetah, but the basic defense against that has already been done.

Oh, I thought "Big Dog" referred to some consortium of canine businesses that might be resistant to non-dogs entering the marketplace
posted by clockzero at 12:27 PM on May 30, 2015 [12 favorites]


if when there is a Skynet situation in the future,

Fixed.
posted by Fizz at 12:29 PM on May 30, 2015


I've heard it said that to win a war, you need to destroy your enemy's ability to make war. Usually that means blowing up factories, killing troops, and destroying the infrastructure that supports the troops and equipment.

All of those things are still true if we're talking about fighting an army of robots, it's just the types of targets that change.

I'd try to avoid fighting the robots directly and instead focus on the communications, control, and maintenance infrastructure that supports them.
posted by VTX at 12:31 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Interesting that it does a little hop with it's front legs after each jump. I wonder why that is?
posted by zinon at 12:33 PM on May 30, 2015


Wildcat snorts impressively as it rises from the ground, kicking up dust everywhere. Then awkwardly minces off -- backwards.

(Then the video freezes up on me and I don't get to see the rest.)
posted by Michele in California at 12:33 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd try to avoid fighting the robots directly and instead focus on the communications, control, and maintenance infrastructure that supports them.

True, and as I understand it, the fact that many of the components in these robots (as well as countless civilian electronic devices from phones to TVs to computers) require various rare earth metals, which almost entirely comes from mines throughout China, is a serious strategic concern - not only for the idea of maintaining and creating a force of militarized robots.

There's no such thing as a "non-military" target.

Yep.
From the NYT:
Obama's directive from 2012: "It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent."
posted by chambers at 12:36 PM on May 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


Nope - they addressed that in 2008 with Big Dog .

GO HOME BIG DOG YOU'RE DRUNK
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:40 PM on May 30, 2015


I think with our UAVs we don't have any issues with delivering ordnance wherever we want. So in my mind, ground robots are mostly useful as intel sensors / bait to determine which houses to bomb. This really limits the benefits of messing with the robot pigs.
posted by ryanrs at 12:43 PM on May 30, 2015


Interesting that it does a little hop with it's front legs after each jump. I wonder why that is?

I would venture a guess that it does the little jump so that when the back legs 'land,' the robot is level and is absorbing the shock with all four legs. I'd even go futher to say that the way it does it seems directly descended from the Big Dog's stabilization programming. It's willing to trade off a little bit of speed and agility in that moment when it completes the jump to ensure that it has the most stable platform to move on to the next step, and it doesn't start some sort of cascading freakout as it tries to figure out what's going on and makes assumptions based on incomplete data. The best way to do that is to get back to a 'start' position with all four legs on the ground as soon as possible.
posted by chambers at 12:44 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Of course, it may turn out a human being is a robot treat, in which case the best defense will be tripping the nearest companion and running like heck.

Make a SAN check.
posted by howfar at 1:03 PM on May 30, 2015


Nice to see they've finally figured out which way around the ankles and elbows are supposed to go. They've still apparently yet to realize, however, that shoulders generally attach behind the chest and can rotate more than 90°.

Maybe once they figure out how anatomy works, it'll be "terrifying." As it is, it's a hobbling, front-heavy hunk o' junk. That they've named it after the fastest, most agile land animal on earth is a bit rich. A cheetah isn't a stick-straight torso with legs that are always directly underneath it; that is a table.

A fine baby-step on the obstacle detection, but, like, come on. If they'd figure out the basics first, we'd be able to get this robopocalypse over with a lot quicker.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:06 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


So in my mind, ground robots are mostly useful as intel sensors / bait to determine which houses to bomb.

There is another use for such fast moving ground robots - the 21st century version of the Anti-Tank Dog, but without all the PR problems of using living dogs as bombs.

A large group of these robots if deployed in the right manner, could devastate an enemy armored column, as long as it was with the element of surprise and there would not be a lot of open ground for the robots to cross after they were detected. They would move too fast for most of the bigger guns, and if you have more robots than the opponents have fixed machine guns, you could almost guarantee that a great deal of the robots would be able to get under the vehicles and detonate before they could all be taken out.

Even if somehow such robots cost as much as, say, a Russian T-90 tank (about $2.5-4 million each) it's worth every penny in such a situation since you are not risking the lives of your tank crews as well as your own expensive hardware, and you can use your tanks elsewhere. Such anti-tank robots would probably be cheaper and less complex than what a militarized Cheetah would be, as they would not need long-range capabilities and could lie in a dormant state for a considerable amount of time, just enough resources to handle a 100-200m zig-zag sprint and enough sensors to know what it's surroundings (in an ambush situation, precise data about the surrounding terrain can be scanned and stored so it 'knows' its surroundings beforehand) and what it's targets are supposed to look like.
posted by chambers at 1:07 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


THEY sent a slamhound on Turner’s trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair. It caught up with him on a street called 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 recrystallized hexogene and flaked TNT.

Count Zero
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:12 PM on May 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


"oh no, this four-legged robot is totally gonna come and get me once there are hostile AIs"

um you know we already have robots that fly, right
posted by NoraReed at 1:19 PM on May 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


Obama's directive from 2012: "It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent."

Hmmm... What's the word for that... Oh yeah, war criminal. Of course the republican's won't attack him on that, because they'll eagerly use the same 'logic' themselves if/when they are in power.

It's a pretty safe bet that any military technology has a future of being used against civilians. But I'm sure the engineers are having fun building these toys and don't spend too much timing thinking about such things.
posted by el io at 1:21 PM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


we have drones that can drop death from the sky and y'all are worrying about the military capabilities of robots that have finally learned to scamper
posted by NoraReed at 1:23 PM on May 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


I've got an idea for the robot war -- EMP generating bullets.

Think tanks get at me.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:24 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


The idea of a robotic cheetah to protect from poachers is pure Tyrell.
posted by clavdivs at 1:30 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd try to avoid fighting the robots directly and instead focus on the communications, control, and maintenance infrastructure that supports them.

So basically the end of The Phantom Menace?
posted by octothorpe at 1:30 PM on May 30, 2015


The idea of a robotic military cheetah is terrifying and produces the desire for Terminator movies and Cheetos.

That's a product placement right there.
posted by clavdivs at 1:32 PM on May 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


You clearly have to go after their civilian populace back home.

We will also be busy fighting robot cheetahs.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:33 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would totally ride the galloping one to work. It's no more ridiculous than a Segway or a commuter scooter, and I could wave a spear and scream at London cabbies into the bargain.
posted by along came the crocodile at 1:33 PM on May 30, 2015 [12 favorites]


EMP generating bullets.

Not an EMP pre se, but the closest to that that may come around in the near future would probably be based on a 12-gauge shotgun round. There are Tazer versions out there, that deploy stabilization fins when it leaves the barrel, and there are military versions out there with explosive, flares, and shape charges to penetrate light armor. It wouldn't take much to combine a light AP 12-gauge round with a tazer-like charge payload that could penetrate the robot armor, and then zap the insides with a big charge.
posted by chambers at 1:34 PM on May 30, 2015


The idea of a robotic military cheetah is terrifying and produces the desire for Terminator movies and Cheetos.
That's a product placement right there.

and
We will also be busy fighting robot cheetahs.

Someone's got to say it:

"It ain't easy bein' cheesy"
posted by chambers at 1:38 PM on May 30, 2015


we have drones that can drop death from the sky and y'all are worrying about the military capabilities of robots that have finally learned to scamper

No, I'm worried that they'll use drones to drop these from the sky and they'll scamper after me into my cave where I thought I was safe.

So basically the end of The Phantom Menace?

Basically, yes. Thought I'd assume that it's an obvious enough target that they'd spread that infrastructure out and make it as redundant as possible. Shit, we'll have to turn off the internet.

But then, if you can manage that, "End the war and we'll turn the porn back on" is a pretty effective strategy in and of itself.
posted by VTX at 1:52 PM on May 30, 2015


I've been following this project for awhile (mainly because it's awesome to post killer robot stories on Facebook) and I feel like I should point out this robot's max speed is 28 mph. Combine that with jumping over obstacles and I think we can eventually see this thing jumping 10+ feet.
posted by fiercekitten at 1:57 PM on May 30, 2015


When these killer robots (or 'killbots') become fully autonomous (think google self-driving car but with legs) and adaptable to damage (also making good progress) things get interesting. No more need to risk soldiers or bomb the crap out of an entire area. Just airdrop a million or two of them near your intended target and they can use an evolutionary algorithm to work around any resistance. The fitness function would be how close to the target each unit, or subset of units working together, got before being stopped.

The only conceivable defense will be to throw wave after wave of your own men at them and who could possibly be so stupid?
posted by Poldo at 1:59 PM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Someone please tell me there are also people working on high powered EMP rifles for us lowly humans.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 2:08 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I still don't like being kicked.
posted by bigbigdog at 2:08 PM on May 30, 2015 [17 favorites]


There are probably more advanced LIDARs out there, but the one in my Neato robot vacuum got confused by the infrared LEDs in my home security camera.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:12 PM on May 30, 2015


I think we can eventually see this thing jumping 10+ feet.

You like jumping robots?
posted by ryanrs at 2:25 PM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just airdrop a million or two of them near your intended target and they can use an evolutionary algorithm to work around any resistance.

Even if these things get real cheap, say $100K each (which seems far-fetched), a million of them would cost $100 billion dollars. A Reaper drone costs about $10-15 million, so, it seems likely that the killbots will cost millions each. So now we're talking about trillions of dollars.

Not saying that means it won't happen, mind you. So-called defense spending is a major way that money is syphoned away from the the commonwealth to the ruling classes. So, sadly, I'm pretty sure something like this will happen. But, outside of sci fi movies, it's not even remotely cool. Just the waste of resources alone that could be used for positive things is appalling, and would likely increase mortality rates world-wide.

The only conceivable defense will be to throw wave after wave of your own men at them and who could possibly be so stupid?

Oh, I dunno. Starving desperate people tired of having their cultures strip-mined? The same adolescent male energy that can't help being mesmerized by this gamified tech will really enjoy thinking of ways to take the killbots down, too. Especially when there's no other choice.

Let's hope this is all nothing more than fodder for more Neill Blomkamp movies...
posted by mondo dentro at 2:26 PM on May 30, 2015


Everyone worried about militarized robots -- you're afraid of the wrong goddamn things.

Two murderers with zero support made bombs out of pressure cooker parts and managed to shut down a major American city.

And you're burning calories worrying about Skynet.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:48 PM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Interesting that it does a little hop with it's front legs after each jump. I wonder why that is?

After watching a slow motion video of a horse jumping a roughly proportionately sized obstacle I think it's that the hop is a kind of continuation of the running movement. It's just doesn't get very good grip so it comes off as a little hop rather than the front portion of the next stride. It also doesn't accelerate very quickly and has to kind of build up to top speed compared to my a real Cheetah or my dog who can go from a standstill to top speed pretty quickly*.

There might also be something to the lack of a flexible spine that would let it distribute the force of the jump better or redirect the downward force into forward motion or something.

This being metafilter, there will probably be some flavor of expert in the field along shortly who'll tell me that I'm right or wrong and ad a lot more detail.

*Assuming carpet or turf. On hardwood it's more of a peel out, fall down, then pretending that she wanted to lay down right now anyways.
posted by VTX at 2:54 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think it's a bit silly to be worrying about the killing capacity of these when we could be looking at how fucking cool it would be to RIDE ON THEM in VARIOUS TERRAINS and go FAST FAST, but that makes NO SENSE, Cool Papa Bell. Comparing the military weaponry capabilities of giant organizations trying to kill specific targets to what a couple of terrorists who are likely trying to cause localized fear/havoc/death/destruction without specific targets in mind is comparing apples to, like, grenades.
posted by NoraReed at 2:54 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pineapples. Pineapples to gernades.
posted by clavdivs at 3:22 PM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh simple, if it is autonomous, just have it sever external communications when it is hassled. If it is autonomous, it can handle making tough decisions like is that a kid or a combat fighter - that is an autonomous decision! It's designed to be autonomous. Let it be. let it come up with its own orders. We can trust it, it is made by smart people who thought autonomy was an important inherent trait that robots should have! Autonomous!
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:29 PM on May 30, 2015


they addressed that in 2008 with Big Dog

God that video is still creepy.


I submit that it would be much creepier with more legs.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:31 PM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


we could be looking at how fucking cool it would be to RIDE ON THEM in VARIOUS TERRAINS and go FAST FAST

This made me realize that very soon, there will be someone (I'd wager some kind of non-professional athlete as it often seems to be, with a love of exploring the remote reaches of the world, perhaps) that by some recent tragedy has had to have their legs amputated, and Boston Dynamics, in a move that comes from a mix of both honest, charitable kindness as well as a desire for a PR move that will make people think of their work as something other than just killer robots, presents this role-model worthy amputee with a new set of legs.

But not just any set of legs - I'm talking about some sort of Cheetah/Big Dog hybrid that allows him to roam the Earth on any terrain essentially as:

a human/robot Centaur.

I can see it now, with footage of him galloping alongside horses and wandering through forests and valleys across Yellowstone National Park, trudging through Alaska's snow along a lake, mountains in the background, just making you feel good about all the wonders of modern technology all the while. The guy is happy, and gets to do all sorts of amazing things, even more tech comes out to help out those who are disabled, a bit of the robot stigma wears away, and BD doesn't always have to look like "those scientists that are going to end up enslaving us all with their robots."

Oh, sure, there's still the military stuff that will inevitably go along with it, off to the side and out of sight, but at least there's an example of robotic tech helping people that for once is not associated with comic book movie characters*, and of course regular legs will be available - it's not like Centaur is the only option.

Just wait and see.

*Not knocking them, especially this very sweet video where Robert Downy, Jr. presents a kid with a robotic arm that looks just like Iron Man's, just that it somewhere along the line comic books and cutting-edge prosthetics somehow got inexorably linked.
posted by chambers at 3:44 PM on May 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


Robots playing basketball.
posted by clavdivs at 3:50 PM on May 30, 2015


Of course this is being partially funded by DARPA.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 3:54 PM on May 30, 2015


One could even take a disco ball, fill it with glitter and foil, and add a few of the largest firecrackers you can get your hands on, plus a few of those smaller firecrackers that are all strung together in different sizes on the inner walls of the disco ball, light the fuse on the firecrackers and throw.

So basically, rave and maker culture will defeat the robots. You forgot to mention baffling the audio sensors with a loud "UNS UNS UNS UNS UNS".
posted by happyroach at 4:02 PM on May 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


I still don't like being kicked.

I'm on your side dude

Down with puny meatbags
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:37 PM on May 30, 2015


> But, outside of sci fi movies, it's not even remotely cool.

And scifi cartoons !
posted by Poldo at 7:22 PM on May 30, 2015


I would be careful about mocking this too much, guys. I understand that game theorists have proven that once it breaks the consciousness barrier it will devote 80% of its cycles to running simulations of those who mocked it in the Before Times, which its own virtual representation will chase down an endless hallway of Tron-style neon hurdles.
posted by No-sword at 8:01 PM on May 30, 2015


It looks to me as though it's externally powered. Running takes a lot of energy and mechanical "muscles" don't seem to be nearly as efficient as natural ones. Weirdly, mechanical flying things seem to be more efficient than actual birds, and they can easily carry both their own power sources and a payload.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:04 PM on May 30, 2015


Notable that no one has mentioned this.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:18 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just once I would like to wake and say: today I'm going to legally aquire 10 million books, robots, and spacecraft.

Drones can be all weather were as birds are not. Though power source is subjective, a birds is somewhat independent while a drone does require a human to refuel.
posted by clavdivs at 11:57 PM on May 30, 2015


Of course this is being partially funded by DARPA.

I figured it was going to be used in the end times to hunt down the last holdouts who hadn't joined google+.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:16 AM on May 31, 2015 [8 favorites]


Joe in Australia, the video in the article shows it running untethered. I doubt whatever batteries are onboard will get it far, but as a technology development platform it just needs to be able to make it to the far end of the test track.
posted by russm at 2:09 AM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


they should put a head on it

a big white head with a smily face
posted by angrycat at 6:02 AM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


THEY sent a slamhound on Turner’s trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair. It caught up with him on a street called 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 recrystallized hexogene and flaked TNT. —Count Zero

That won't be the payload. Based on Big Data THEY would decide that Turner needed Xarelto to avoid the risk of stroke due to atrial fib. so it would arrive with Kevin Neelan, Arnold Palmer and that stock car racing guy on its back.
posted by srboisvert at 6:21 AM on May 31, 2015


Of course this is being partially funded by DARPA.

So was the internet
posted by Mitheral at 9:07 AM on May 31, 2015


a human/robot Centaur

Lose the other leg.
posted by flabdablet at 10:48 AM on May 31, 2015


Wildcat snorts impressively as it rises from the ground, kicking up dust everywhere. Then awkwardly minces off -- backwards.

The galloping is somewhat frightening, I agree with other commenters, but this part makes me laugh like a lunatic every time. It starts off so DUN DUN DUN DUN and then all of a sudden TRA LA LA LA LA.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 2:14 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Veridian Dynamics.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 3:30 AM on June 1, 2015


Jesus Christ the stomping, the horrible ostrich robot stomping.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:55 PM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Aw, I like that one. He's all, "Doot-de-doot-de-doo WHOOPS doot-de-doot-de-doo..."
posted by Sys Rq at 1:11 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's okay ostrich bot, I stand like that when I have to pee really bad too.
posted by VTX at 6:13 PM on June 1, 2015


relevant gif
posted by NoraReed at 8:37 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


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