US military’s BigDog robot learns to throw cinder blocks, grenades…

Autore: ExtremeTech

Boston Dynamics' BigDog, flinging cinder blocks

Boston Dynamics, the robotics company behind AlphaDog, Petman, and Cheetah, has now outfitted its BigDog robot with an arm that’s capable of flinging 50-pound (23kg) concrete blocks across a room at high speed.

This really is as terrifying as it sounds — but if you don’t trust me, watch the video below.

BigDog was originally the precursor to the AlphaDog Legged Squad Support System (LS3), which is currently undergoing final testing before its first deployment with the US Marines. With this video, though, it seems that BigDog has now become some kind of prototype platform for Boston Dynamics’ wild and frankly insane ideas — such as tossing cinder blocks across a room.

BigDog’s cinder chucking is extraordinary for one key reason: BigDog, at 3 feet (0.9m) long and 2.5 feet tall, isn’t all that big. Imagine a Labrador trying to throw a 50-pound stick with its jaw or one of its paws, and you’ll understand what I mean. BigDog achieves this feat by closely mimicking how humans throw things. Basically, when you throw a ball, you’re not just using your arm muscles — you’re also channeling power from your legs and torso. This is a routine action for humans, but bleeding edge for this new generation of biomimetic (biology-mimicking) robots. In the second half of the video you can clearly see how BigDog shifts its weight back, and then fully forward into the throw as the robotic arm swings the cinder block upwards.

As much as you’d like to see the US military field a battalion of projectile-pitching robotic retrievers, though, it will almost certainly never come to pass. A far more likely use for this technology is the removal of obstacles, or perhaps lifting soldiers/survivors out of debris — though, considering how BigDog’s strength is currently derived from some beefy off-board hydraulics, we might be getting ahead of ourselves. It’s an interesting thought experiment to consider just how far a BigDog could throw a grenade, though…

And now, with you suitably scared about the future of humanity, here are a few more videos that should put the fear of robotic overlords into you.

Now read: Do humans dream of android prostitutes?

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