SOMETHING SOMETHING SKYNET BECOMES SELF AWARE
November 8, 2019 10:50 AM   Subscribe

It’s that time of year again — fall is here and packs of robot dogs are frolicking in the leaves. [YouTube] “Each one weighs about 20 pounds (or nine kilograms), is powered by 12 electrical motors, and can reach speeds of around six miles per hour (or 2.5 meters per second). As you can see in the video, they’re all being steered manually using what look like RC controllers. [...] “Mini Cheetah is just about the perfect size. Twenty pounds (9 kilograms) is not too small but not so big that it’s dangerous or fragile,” said Sangbae. “We designed the machine to be able to absorb the impacts, jumping and landing and so on.”” [via: The Verge]
posted by Fizz (58 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
THE HOPPING
posted by cortex at 10:58 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


WHY do they not have HEADS. (Or at least necks.)
posted by readinghippo at 11:12 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]


This is adorable and all but mark my words, at some point in the near future that clicking sound will be the last thing many people hear before their terrible deaths.

I'm so very offended that the world ran in slow motion down a beach with open arms towards dystopia because it arrived on pocketable spying devices with lots of cute games and on the backs of soon-to-be-assassin-cheetah-dogs that can be made to be cute by rolling in the fucking leaves before they finally get the mounts right for the silenced small-caliber weapons systems.
posted by nevercalm at 11:13 AM on November 8 [33 favorites]


.....if we're lucky!
posted by lalochezia at 11:15 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


Once they make them run silently (without all the clattering) look out.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:17 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Relevant Black Mirror (spoilers)
posted by anthill at 11:17 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


When the assassin-cheetah-dogs are coming either way, might as well enjoy the cute clicking while you can
posted by CrystalDave at 11:21 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


WHY do they not have HEADS. (Or at least necks.)

Easier for them to dig underneath fences. And also a good way to avoid unnecessary robotic decapitations.
posted by Fizz at 11:24 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Is that “unnecessary decapitation of robots” or “unnecessary decapitation by robots?”
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:31 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


Yes.
posted by Fizz at 11:31 AM on November 8 [11 favorites]


WHY do they not have HEADS.

I thought this too, then I supposed that would mean mouths and teeth too and I noped right out.
posted by sjswitzer at 11:33 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


1. Necessity is the mother of invention.
2. Robot decapitations are unnecessary.
3. Robot decapitations have been invented.
4. Robot decapitations are orphans, QED.
posted by cortex at 11:34 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


Obligatory
posted by sjswitzer at 11:35 AM on November 8


I love all the MIT students in the background ignoring the cute cavorting robots. Just another day at the Institvte.
posted by Nelson at 11:37 AM on November 8 [7 favorites]


Ok, but for drill teams, they're a thing, right ?

*leans right* *leans left*
*elevates to full extension*
*backflips*
*scurries*
...
posted by y2karl at 11:42 AM on November 8


So roadkill for self-driving cars?
posted by Segundus at 11:42 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


1. Robot decapitations have been invented.
2. Necessity is the mother of invention.
3. Therefore, Necessity is the mother of robot decapitations.
4. Robot decapitations are unnecessary.
5. Therefore, Necessity is the mother of the Unnecessary.
6. Capitalism creates its own crises.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:48 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


I want to see footage of them dubbed with the noises from the Houndeyes from the original Half Life game.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:02 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


An unnecessary of dogbots.

"Why look, an unnecessary of robot caniods are simulating frolic on that grassy lawn!"

"How adorable-adjacent!"
posted by bonehead at 12:07 PM on November 8 [15 favorites]


So roadkill for self-driving cars?

Autonomous Audi Abrogates Autobahn Aibo
posted by cortex at 12:12 PM on November 8 [10 favorites]


Cyber Canine Crushed by Careening Cretinous Car
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:17 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Distracted Dumptruck Destroys Digital Doggo
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:18 PM on November 8 [7 favorites]


E-taxi Eviscerates Eerie Exectutionbots
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:24 PM on November 8 [6 favorites]


There's a very brief moment in the video around the 1:05 mark where they're all lined up and the "leader" turns and "looks" at the camera, and the rest follow in sync. No kidding, I froze and felt my heart rate pick up. It was like being spotted by a pack of predators. Then they immediately go back to being goofy.

click click click click click click click click
posted by castlebravo at 12:24 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Bodyless BMW backs over bow-wow bot.
posted by Tsuga at 12:25 PM on November 8 [4 favorites]


Note to filmmakers: the death robots look like a Sony Aibo or a model plane, not Arnold Schwarzenegger.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:37 PM on November 8


Free-Range Flivver Flattens Fake Fido
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:38 PM on November 8 [5 favorites]


I hate being the local grinch, but if you look in the background you can see a bunch of people standing around with R/C transmitters. Making these things basically very expensive radio-controlled toys, with about the same chance of going rogue as anything on sale at the local hobby shop.

You can do some fairly scary stuff if you combine the right bits of currently-available technology together in the right way, but this isn't what it looks like. The scary stuff is running on software developers' laptops where it's being trained to recognize people's gaits (facial recognition? pfft) while looking straight down at them from 25,000 feet. Or tiny, stupid, butterfly drones, just barely capable of recognizing the human head's IR signature, each with a half-gram of explosive and a tungsten penetrator. Or propaganda that makes crazy, impressionable people into smart weapons, no delivery vehicle necessary.

That's the kind of stuff that scares me, anyway. The robot dogs, I'll keep.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:38 PM on November 8 [6 favorites]


Exectution

It's a perfectly cromtulent word...
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:41 PM on November 8


The parts where they're kicking around the soccer ball demonstrated that these would be useful in recovering a decapitated human head.
posted by slogger at 12:54 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


Be nice to see these little platforms carrying cameras, strobe lights and speakers into fires and saving victims before they carry guns or bombs into war, which they will. And larger trailer based units fighting land fires with water sprays and again GPS cameras.
posted by Freedomboy at 12:58 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Yeah, if these replace actual dogs in dangerous situations it seems like a win.
I mean, that probably includes war which is a definite mixed bag (I hate seeing dogs used in war, but I'm not exactly enthused about the war-robot future, but on the other other hand its coming whether we like it or not).
posted by thefoxgod at 1:20 PM on November 8


(By war-robot future I mean increased use of robots and eventually completely autonomous robots making kill decisions. Obviously war robots already exist, they'll just get more terrifying)
posted by thefoxgod at 1:22 PM on November 8


A question for anyone who knows or has a good hypothesis: why do they have four reverse-jointed legs? What's the advantage in that design? I don't know of any animal has four backwards-facing knees.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 1:55 PM on November 8


They were in Lisbon too this week.

Horrible Hounds Harangue Harried Hacks
posted by chavenet at 1:59 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


And also a good way to avoid unnecessary robotic decapitations.

That would take all the fun out of Hilketa!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:05 PM on November 8


A question for anyone who knows or has a good hypothesis: why do they have four reverse-jointed legs? What's the advantage in that design? I don't know of any animal has four backwards-facing knees.

So they can simply back straight up without having to turn around? I highly doubt there’s any “official” front or back to these horrors. “Front” is simply whichever end is pointing in the direction it needs to go.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:20 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


They sent a slam hound 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.

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 prismatic7 at 2:21 PM on November 8 [6 favorites]


Dogs? Looked more like cock-a-roachies to me. Big mechanical bugs. No thanks!
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 2:38 PM on November 8


I simply don't see the point. All of these are warbots, will be used against us. There's a horrific video from, I think, the same organization, where two guys are training a bipedal bot to use a hanging, it's terrifying to watch. And the implications are all.too.obvious

Computers are fine while we are driving them
posted by unearthed at 3:03 PM on November 8


These are adorable. I'd love to get my own RC dog-bot.
posted by No One Ever Does at 3:19 PM on November 8


> you can see a bunch of people standing around with R/C transmitters

Yeah but there's no way they are controlling all the individual joints etc - you push the stick forward and the bot goes forward, working out all the complex co-ordination needed to do so without further intervention. Similarly back-flip, righting itself, bouncing, different gaits, etc etc. So the remote-controlling human just needs to be replaced by some more sensors (maybe) and a bit of software that creates an autonomous whatever-machine, and if you think that package would be big enough or power-hungry enough to significantly affect the performance of these things when mounted on board then I think you're mistaken or very soon will be. I suspect that saying that these things have about the same chance of going rogue as anything on sale at the local hobby shop is much like Bill Gates saying that nobody could ever need more than 640KB of RAM - seems plausible in the moment.
posted by merlynkline at 3:21 PM on November 8


Videos of modern ambulatory robots in any form elicit Metafilter comments about how the robot apocalypse is going to kill us all like a stimulus-response reflex.

On my gloomier days thinking about climate change, this strikes me as a wildly optimistic reaction.
posted by biogeo at 4:55 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


needs more robo doggy-style
posted by idiopath at 5:53 PM on November 8


Just another day at the Institvte.

Institute invents inevitably insurrectionist iDogs
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:00 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


Bugatti borg bashes bionic beagle.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:19 PM on November 8 [5 favorites]


Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.” – Roger A. Caras

Let's not spoil a good thing by weaponizing dog-bots. Tail-wagging (if only they had a tail, devs, hello?), playful countermeasures are available: robot ball, robot bone, robot cat, robot tree.
posted by cenoxo at 8:57 PM on November 8


Incidentally, "Robot Bone" is the name of my new band.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:09 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


Suburban dog-bots will have robosquirrels (complete with government boondoggles), and for rural dog-bots, cow-bots (properly painted) making fresh cow-bot pies to eat and roll around in.
posted by cenoxo at 4:55 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


Sounds like we're well on our way towards being able to populate Green Hill Zone.
posted by biogeo at 8:39 AM on November 9


This is out of MIT right? It isn't by Boston Dynamics?
posted by numaner at 1:09 PM on November 9


speaking of, here's the launch video for Boston Dynamic's Spot
posted by numaner at 1:12 PM on November 9


why do they have four reverse-jointed legs? What's the advantage in that design? I don't know of any animal has four backwards-facing knees.

MIT has your answer:
We found that the great majority of robot designs have several locally optimal gaits with the knee bending backwards that are more efficient than the most efficient gait with the knee bending forwards. The most efficient backwards gaits do not exhibit lower touchdown losses than the most efficient forward gaits; rather, the improved efficiency of backwards gaits stems from lower torque and reduced motion at the hip. The reduced hip use of backwards gaits is enabled by the ability of the backwards knee, acting alone, to (1) propel the robot upwards and forwards simultaneously and (2) lift and protract the foot simultaneously.
Here's a guy building a quadruped robot who basically arrives at that design after testing a few others. He chooses it because of the reduced limb mass (analogous to unsprung weight, basically) vs. designs that would require the motor for the lower segment to be mounted in the upper segment.

This discussion also points out that with a front-bending knee, if the robot goes into a crouch it can't get its "face" as far forward.

I also think there's probably a production advantage to using identical front and back legs on a robot, which aren't an issue for mammals. But if you're engineering a dogbot, it's pretty nice to have the front and back legs be identical. (Instead of front-left, front-right, rear-left, rear-right all being distinct assemblies, you just have "left" and "right".) So even if it's not strictly optimal to have identical front and back legs (maybe for jumping performance) you might do it anyway.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:58 PM on November 9


Has nobody read Farenheit 451???? Is this a leap forward for caninekind or a move towards roboattackdogs?
posted by mightshould at 3:22 PM on November 9


Mechatronic minivan mangles motorised mutt.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:45 AM on November 10


Tesla totals Tandy terrier
posted by cortex at 10:21 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Huh, remember the Aibo? I bet with a slightly more realistic skin, something like a head and a tail, and you'd corner the 'wants a dog but can't actually have one' market, especially if you added in some 'fetch,' 'heel,' and 'roll over' APIs. Program in a few basic seeing-eye dog functions and you could do some real good -- when I worked with a blind man, he would occasionally have problems with his seeing-eye dog getting distracted or confused, and need someone to walk with them to where they were going.
Bruce Sterling's 'Schismatrix' has what I would hope (over the military killing machine we all suspect we're going to get instead) would be the end-game for devices like this, helping the protagonist near the end:

‘At the Neotenic Cultural Republic, Abelard Lindsay decamped from a monstrous spacecraft.

‘In the free-fall zone he moved easily, with the unconscious grace of extreme age.

‘But as he moved down the slope inside the cylindrical world, past the hotels and low-grav tourist shops, he leaned more and more heavily on the squat head of his robot companion. The two of them reached level ground, a loamy wilderness with solemn, ancient ranks of trees. The tub-shaped robot nurse nicked a quick blood sample from the nerveless flesh of Lindsay's leg. As they shuffled along the leaf-strewn footpath, the machine fractionated the blood and mumbled over its data.’
posted by Blackanvil at 7:59 PM on November 10


Huh, remember the Aibo? I bet with a slightly more realistic skin, something like a head and a tail, and you'd corner the 'wants a dog but can't actually have one' market, especially if you added in some 'fetch,' 'heel,' and 'roll over' APIs.

That avenue has already been explored.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:31 PM on November 10


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