BigDog Robass More Coordinated Than I Am

A new video of BigDog, the quadrupedal robot, has been released by creator Boston Robotics. In this amazing video, Big Dog is viciously pushed by aggressive humans, forced to scramble across frozen puddles, urged to climb impossibly slippery, snowy slopes - in short, it's quite a test for an autonomous robot.

(Can Big Dog succeed in an autonomous scramble test?)

BigDog's legs are articulated like an animal's; it has compliant elements that absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. Its onboard computer controls locomotion and a variety of sensors. Sensors for locomotion include joint position, joint force, ground contact, ground load, a laser gyroscope, and a stereo vision system. BigDog now carries up to 340 pounds of gear.

This video of BigDog demonstrates how far roboticists have come in dealing with the problem of balance for autonomous pedal robots.

If you've read this far, you're probably wondering exactly what a robass is. In his exceptional 1951 short story The Quest for Saint Aquin, Anthony Boucher writes about an autonomous robot with articulated legs:

He... took his first opportunity to inspect the robass in full light. He admired the fast-plodding, articulated legs, so necessary since roads had degenerated...

Thomas pulled off the skins and contemplated the sleek functional lines of the robass. Smiling, he stowed his minimal gear into its panniers and climbed into the foam saddle. The starlight was bright enough so he could check the necessary coordinates on his map and feed the data into the electronic controls...
(Read more about the robass)

Now if only they built a ReallyBigDog robot you could ride on...

Read more about BigDog, including some early sketches of the BigDog robot. Thanks to BajaB for pointing this great BigDog video out.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/17/2008)

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