New Robot from ‘BigDog’ Makers Moves Eerily Like a Human

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I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords. Yes, those geniuses over at Boston Dynamics have finally done it: created something even creepier than their last robot, BigDog. The Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin (a.k.a. PETMAN) is finally reporting for duty after a 13-month design phase and 17-month build phase.

The man-sized robot moves like a human being, pumping its arms and even balancing itself when pushed. PETMAN’s function is to test clothing that will hopefully protect U.S. Army soldiers from chemical agents in the future.

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Still, it’s hard to look at the human gait of this anthropomorphic robot and not imagine armies of Terminator-style robots marching over an apocalyptic hellscape. The fact that it has an ominous red light in place of a head doesn’t make it look any friendlier.

The thing even sweats; PETMAN is programmed to simulate human temperatures and humidity when testing out protective clothing. It’s also capable of performing squats, push-ups and other simple exercises, which means science has finally brought us the tools for realistic robot training montages in action movies.

Other robots in the company’s stable of machines: the aforementioned BigDog (designed to carry heavy loads for soldiers), the wall-climbing RiSE and the shape-shifting SquishBot. Skynet … oops, I mean Boston Dynamics, was originally founded as a spin-off of MIT back in 1992.

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