In 2007 Boston Dynamics, a robotics company, posted a video online of a robot called the BigDog that could run on any type of terrain like a dog. The video quickly went viral, partly becauseÂ peopleÂ were in awe of the robot’s agility and also because it was so scary to watch.
On Thursday, Boston Dynamics showed off its latest robot: the AlphaDog. This new robot is essentially BigDog’s big scary brother. It’s officially called a “Legged Squad Support System,” or LS3, and it is financed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Pentagon, also known as Darpa, and the Marine Corps.
According to Boston Dynamics, the AlphaDog can carry up to 400 pounds of gear, while storing enough fuel for a trip that covers 20 miles over 24 hours. The AlphaDog robot also doesn’t need a driver, as it can be programmed to follow a designated leader using computer vision. It can also be programmed toÂ independentlyÂ travel to specific places using sensors and GPS.
The video shows some of theÂ tricks the AlphaDog can perform, including running over boulders and fallen trees, and gallopingÂ like a horse while being aggressively pushed to the side. The most impressive feature is its ability to stand upÂ independentlyÂ while lying on its side or back.
But don’t expect to buy a AlphaDog at your local Radio Shack anytime soon. Darpa hopes to use these robots on the battlefield and in war zones.
Let’s put it this way: if I saw this thing heading toward me in the middle of a battle, I wouldn’t even try to run in the other direction. I’d just fall on the floor in the fetal position and pray.