We have covered BigDog before. BigDog is the aptly-named, big, dog-like robot from Boston Dynamics that, according to the company, “is a rough-terrain robot that walks, runs, climbs and carries heavy loads.”
The project is funded by DARPA, as are several other Boston Dynamics robots — the company has posted several videos of the robots in action on its YouTube channel. Here’s PETMAN: He can do push-ups and you can’t knock him off-balance. Here’s Cheetah Robot: It can run 28.3 miles per hour.
And here’s a BigDog greatest hits montage of sorts:
I’m trying unsuccessfully to avoid referring to BigDog as a scary robot, since it’s been done a thousand times before on a thousand different blogs. But look at those guys trying to kick BigDog off-balance and watch BigDog scramble back to its feet. Nice doggie. I’m an American. I’m on your team.
And here we have the latest BigDog video, wherein Boston Dynamics has outfitted man’s best friend with the ability to whip cinder blocks around:
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.
Is BigDog’s cinder block-throwing feature useful in the real world? I don’t know. Probably! My iPhone came preloaded with a compass app that I never use, but it’s nice to know that it’s there. And I’d surely pony up for a consumer version of BigDog that could lightly — lightly! — toss various consumable items from the kitchen to the living room.