I know I already referenced this video in my links post this morning, and GammaSquad covered it on Friday, but this new BigDog video from Boston Dynamics simply demanded its own post, if only for nostalgia’s sake. You see, it was March 2008 when I first posted the now-famous video of Boston Dynamics’ “Big Dog Robot,” a giant, buzzing, two-headed fly with fast-pumping, Roger Craig-esque robot dog legs, regaining its footing on ice and clambering through the forest. And in just five years, they’ve taught it to hurl 50-pound blocks of concrete. If that sounds like a long time, think of it this way: how long did it take you to grow arms and then use them for throwing? Probably longer than five years, and you still throw like a girl.
BigDog handles heavy objects. The goal is to develop techniques for using the strength of the legs and torso to help power motions of the arm. This sort of dynamic approach is routinely used by human athletes and is now improving the performance of robots. The research is performed by Boston Dynamics with funding from the Army Research Laboratory through the RCTA.
The cinder block likely weighs something like 50 pounds (23 kg), so a lot of force is required to toss it like that. If you watch closely in the slow-motion, you can definitely see how BigDog is relying on its entire body to make the throw, and not just moving its arm. As Boston Dynamics points out, it’s common for humans (and animals) to rely on integrated whole-body motion like this, and you may have noticed it in another Boston Dynamics bio-inspired robot, Cheetah, which gets running power from its back as well as its feet and legs. [Via]
Can a robot Krystallnacht be far off?
And yes, this was all just an excuse to re-post one of my all-time favorite parody videos: