Hail BigDog

May I be the first to say: All hail our new robotic quadruped overlords!. It’s name is BigDog.

Well, it’s only a matter of time now, before our machines develop enough capabilities to wipe us off the planet. As this video patently illustrates, it is not longer impossible for them to mimic real life physical movement and reflexes. The only thing that this robot lacks is an autonomous thinking capability.

The engineer in me can see and appreciate the amount of engineering elegance that must have gone into the design of such a marvel. Walking on four legs isn’t so much of an issue but being able to quickly recover from being suddenly thrown off balance, is a great accomplishment. At the very least, this will see such a robot being useful for ferrying things around. The present robot can already carry a few hundred pounds in weight, which brings to mind a very useful application.

The project is currently being funded by DARPA. So, it is being designed for military applications. Now, we can all imagine how this could easily be turned into a AT-AT walker from Star Wars. All it needs is the ability to ferry around a few tonnes of weight. Then, we just need to plant a big set of guns and some seats on it. I’m curious to know if it’s reflexes can scale well with it’s size.

Besides the obvious military advantages of having a robotic pet that can ferry huge equipment and supplies along, there are also very practical civil applications for such a robot. It could be tasked to carry disabled people around a hospital, for example. It would clearly be able to navigate the various “terrain” present within a suitable medical establishment and have enough reflexes to keep it’s balance when it is knocked around. It could also carry some obese individuals around town if we just add some seats onto it.

Well, that’s enough from me. Just watch the video and tell me that it doesn’t send creepy chills down your spine at some point.

Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered/Professional Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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