BigDog isn’t exactly cute or cuddly, but it is extremely useful, capable of carrying 340 lbs of cargo across uneven terrain for up to 12.8 miles without stopping. It’s ultimate destiny is on the battlefield, where it will one day carry heavy loads for soldiers in inhospitable territory. Footage of it balancing itself on ice, slippery mud and after being kicked made it a big hit on YouTube, where viewers marveled at how natural-looking its walk was.
“Animals move with incredible agility,” said Marc Raibert, president of the company, Boston Dynamics, that made BigDog. “They control the motion of their bodies to keep them balanced, oriented and sure-footed, even when using very athletic motions such as running, jumping and climbing. Achieving animal-like agility in robots is our long-term goal.”
So, what’s the next step in BigDog’s evolution? That would be AlphaDog, a mule-sized version of the robot that will be able to carry heavier loads for longer distances, and a cheetah-inspired robot that Raibert hopes will be able to run at least 20 mph.