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The Big Dog Walking Qudripedal Robot

Don't have much time today, but I did want to call your attention to an item aggregated on Slashdot: The Boston Dynamics “Big Dog” robot prototype, developed as a cargo mule for DARPA. Here's a must-see video of Big Dog in action, climbing up a wooded hillside, tramping through snow, and walking on ice. At one point a technician kicks the device hard on one side, and it recovers its balance beautifully without falling over, all the while carrying a load that weighs 30% more than itself. It uses a gait that looks more like a show dog's than a draft horse's, and while they do not demonstrate it in full gallop, they're clearly trying to teach it to run.

Scary item, considering that this would have been impossible just a few years ago. I flashed on Cordwainer Smith's Manshonyoggers (from the German Menschenjaeger, man-hunter) which are human-scale Berserkers that run around a ruined world and kill any human being they see. Though hardly stealth creatures now, that's mostly engine noise and is a minor engineering problem. It'll be interesting to see what we do with them in a few years—or what the Bad Guys do with them in another fifteen or twenty.

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