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Robotics Hardware

BigDog Robot Grabs, Lifts, and Throws Cinder Blocks With Its New Arm 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the please-don't-teach-it-to-aim-for-humans dept.
cylonlover writes "Boston Dynamics' BigDog may have already been replaced by the beefier LS3, but that doesn't mean it's totally obsolete. Today the company unveiled a version of the quadruped equipped with an arm where a head (or tail) would go. As can be seen in a slightly disquieting video, it's powerful enough to lift and toss a heavy cinder block. Key to this work, funded by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, is that BigDog uses the dynamic forces of its whole body to help it throw the cinder block. It begins by taking several steps to the side before quickly accelerating as it swings its arm, temporarily launching itself into the air in the process. This approach is similar to the way an athlete winds up before throwing a discus, for example, and greatly enhances the robot's throwing power. Since few robots are as capable as BigDog when it comes to balance, it's an excellent platform to test these sorts of strenuous actions."
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BigDog Robot Grabs, Lifts, and Throws Cinder Blocks With Its New Arm

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  • by Servercide (2820403) on Friday March 01, 2013 @10:35AM (#43044781)
    Considering the military is preparing for a future of cyber warfare. I find it interesting that we are willing to put war fighters into suits that assist with body movements. You know they will have connectivity eventually. I mean, what if the Chinese hack into the systems that control these suits. They would have a whole battalion playing twister in no time :)
    • by dywolf (2673597)

      naked twister...i've seen some of those women they have in the Chinese Army, even if they are just a drill/show platoon. *drool*

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Man bites dog. Dog ... er ... throws cinder block ...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Servercide (2820403)
      Anyone think about the giant dog from Half Life?
      • I was hoping the big dog would throw one of those chihuahuas from "Beverly Hills Chihuahua".

        I would love to see how far it would go.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is terrifying.

    • Not only that, I would not go anywhere near such a machine unless I knew exactly how it was programmed, how its programs have been audited and formally verified, and what kind of safety mechanisms have been built in. Seriously, as long as not at least as much safety evaluation is put into this machine's software as is put into civilian fly-by-wire airplanes it's just a matter of time until the first machine operator will die.

  • I, for one, welcome our new cinderblock-chucking quadrupedal robotic overl-- OW, MY FOOT!
  • I love how the "mouth" looks like it's growling/howling in fury and triumph with its "head" held high after throwing the block...
    • by boristdog (133725)

      As someone else said in another thread: "If I saw this coming at me I would run away screaming, while pooping myself."

  • video (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Video of the cinder block toss by Big Dog.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jvLalY6ubc [youtube.com]

    And a Rick Astley video, well just because it was tempting....
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyViVmaBQDg [youtube.com]

  • It only confirms the old proverb; if you absolutely have to make him a Zaphod Beebledog in order to do that, it shows how difficult it is!
  • come get the blocks, and don't f*** with me!
  • Since there is no practical use in construction for a robot like this, we can probably say goodbye to the three laws.

    • The "three laws" (or equivalent) will apply to every robot made NOT for the US army.

      • by durrr (1316311)

        The three laws apply to no robots at all, because they aren't intelligent enough to dynamically apply them. Not to mention even understand them.

    • Actually it would be very practical! Put a hopper on top of that thing so it can load and haul a few blocks at a time and it would be invaluable to a masonry worker for fetching blocks for a job instead of a helper or the masonry person him/herself having to haul them....would be very handy...
    • by peragrin (659227)

      I can see hundreds of uses for a robot that can pick up heavy objects move over unimproved, uneven, terrain including stairs. And set it back down again.

      Heck even if I have to plug it into a job site generator it would be useful.

      Of course it would put another 20% of the work force out of jobs but who cares

  • What sort of current is in-flowing through those cables?

    Will that chassis support batteries which will make the thing function? If so, for how long? What's the recharge time?

    Until the robots are running on some sort of power which allows dynamic recharge and sustained off-grid operations, all one has to do is outrun them until their batteries run down.

    • by durrr (1316311)

      That chassis supports batteries since 2008 when they demonstrated the fucking thing in their parking lot. And if not batteries it could probably run with a diesel generator.

      The cables are there because
      1.It's easier to develop a device that you can run without swapping batteries all the time
      2. Support cables to prevent it from falling over when you test and fine tune the movement algorithms

      • by geekoid (135745)

        3) so it doesn't get loose during a test and chase you down like a dog.

      • by GreenTom (1352587)
        you forgot 3. If it goes crazy and starts trying to kill everyone, it looses power after a few feet.
    • by dywolf (2673597)

      those cables are more to support the robot in testing so it doesnt fall over.
      the Dog has run on its own power source for years.

    • by lxs (131946)

      What sort of current is in-flowing through those cables?

      That cinder block weights what? 20 kg?
      It throws it about 2 meters high in half a second...

      This gives a power output of 0.5 * 20 * 9.8 * 2 = 196 W Let's assume that there are inefficiencies and I guessed low on height and weight so peak output would be in the ballpark of 1kW

      Say it's powered by a car battery.
      A car battery is about 40Ah at 12V = 480Wh or 0.5 kWh

      So by my wildly inaccurate Friday afternoon calculations it could chuck rocks for two hours be

  • by PlusFiveTroll (754249) on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:02AM (#43044983) Homepage

    Once it can throw chairs, Balmer should worry about keeping his job.

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      Once it can throw chairs, Balmer should worry about keeping his job.

      Right now it would destroy cinder block furniture.

  • That can grab, lift and throw chairs!

  • Robot Apocalypse
    What if there was a robot apocalypse? How long would humanity last?

    http://what-if.xkcd.com/5/ [xkcd.com]

    Even got a mention on Forbes.

    William

    • by TWX (665546)
      What that comes down to, is that humans don't *need* electrical power to merely function. We certainly *like* electrical power, but if it were us versus computers/robots, cut the power, the batteries only last so long, then disassemble them.

      Even if they're guarding all of the power stations and somehow manage to operate them without humans (which is currently impossible), there's absolutely no way to guard all of the power distribution.

      And to my knowledge, the only autonomous robot that I am aware of
      • by geekoid (135745)

        but they could build more very quickly and take over other facilities.

        of course, if the are smart, they will just release nerve agents and radioactive dust into the air.

        There are a lot of things humans do we could replace with robots if we wanted to. right now, we don't want to.

        "somehow manage to operate them without humans (which is currently impossible),"
        ehhh, maybe, maybe not. SCADA system automatically hand almost all of the utilities.
        Humans punch buttons,. the robots to much of the other work.

        We don't

      • What that comes down to, is that humans don't *need* electrical power to merely function. We certainly *like* electrical power, but if it were us versus computers/robots, cut the power, the batteries only last so long, then disassemble them.

        This part of your post made me think of something: while we certainly *like* electrical and gas power for a lot of convenience and we can certainly live without watching the latest popular TV show, we do sorta depend on it for food. I suppose most farm equipment is still mostly mechanical powered by gas/diesel, but I don't think we can continue to feed 7 billion people without the help of machines. I don't think this affects our outcome in a robot revolution, just something interesting that your post induce

      • by vlpronj (1345627)
        "Even if they're guarding all of the power stations and somehow manage to operate them without humans (which is currently impossible), there's absolutely no way to guard all of the power distribution." Even Stephen King could figure out a problem there (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximum_Overdrive) "In the storm of bullets, Hendershot, Wanda June, and three of the truck drivers are fatally gunned down. Then the military vehicle begins beeping its horn in a morse code message which Deke translates as "So
  • They should rename it.
  • Video with better audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6L6MhSgpgo [youtube.com] That's exttremely impressive. I wonder how much it costs though...
  • In the ruins of WWIII, this will be the perfect appliance for taking the charred rubble from a radioactive landscape, and using it to besiege the last, stubborn remnants of humanity in a bid for total, and complete annihilation of the "enemy" (little did we know the enemy was within(!!!)). OR it could be used to help kind old ladies across the street. Really, I'm guessing the latter.

    Seriously. What the hell?

  • I'd be more impressed with some heavy weapons and fire call interfaces.
    Mortar and anti-vehicle missles controlled by google-glass type interfaces on human scouts.
    Also let big dog launch a couple of aerial drones also linked in.

  • and injure innocent bystanders. What have you got?
    • by geekoid (135745)

      It could throw shirt into the crowd of a monster truck rally!

      Anyways I look forward to hearing this thing laugh as it chases me and throw gernades my way~

  • It's a neck, head, and jaws. Add some weight to the head and approporiate "musculature" to the neck and the machine could learn to gallop.

    It still needs to learn how to stand dynamically without prancing, though.

    • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:42PM (#43046073)

      I firmly believe that the US military's focus on monotheistic cultures, coupled with the USMC and DARPA's involvement in Boston Dynamics, points to a vast and intricate conspiracy, facilitated by the US government, to engineer a scenario where CNN will one day show people running through the streets amidst screams of "Oh My God! Ponies!"

      Honestly, it's a textbook Illuminati hazing ritual.

  • When they do the high speed video of the thing - notice the flickering exit sign.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      When they do the high speed video of the thing - notice the flickering exit sign.

      I haven't watched the video, my connection is crap and I'm downloading right now, but most LED signs on the market today seem to have LEDs in them.

      • This is what I get for not pressing the correct button. My latency was surprisingly low at that moment, I stabbed for the escape key rather quickly.

  • game of fetch our robotic dog overlords wile make us play.

    "Lets See How You Like Eating The Same Thing EveryDay, HUMANZ!"

  • Dear Boston Dynamics (aka Cyberdyne Systems):

    Stopitstopitstopitstopitstopitstopitstopitstopitstopitstopit.

    #UnintendedConsequenceBlock
  • in addition to the legs. That way, it could use wheeled transport on flat terrain and legs on rough terrain.

  • The slow-mo shots reminded me of this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hI24QTOQPtA [youtube.com]

  • is Armstrong, of course.

"You don't go out and kick a mad dog. If you have a mad dog with rabies, you take a gun and shoot him." -- Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, about Muammar Kadhafy

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