The future of military robotics isn’t all heavy metal and humanoid soldier-bots. If DARPA’s newest warbot implement is any indication, the future is soft, lightweight, and inflatable. The Pentagon’s blue-sky research wing is about to award $625,000 to iRobot to develop an inflatable robotic arm that can lift four times its own weight.
Soft, bendy robots could have a wide variety of benefits, from squishing into tight spaces to conduct surveillance, to crawling through a person's body to deliver drugs or take medical images. But it's hard to build entirely soft objects containing soft bodies, soft batteries and soft motors.
DARPA is poised to launch a new Grand Challenge for a humanoid robot, according to robotics insiders — and the result could be a souped-up metal soldier running alongside BigDog, driving an ATV, unlocking doors and clearing a path to safety for its human counterparts. There’s no official agency announcement yet, but robotics companies heard all about it at a recent industry day.
This little robot may not look like much, but its standing jump two stories high is one of the most incredible robotic feats I have ever seen. Boston Dynamics, creator of the BigDog, Petman and other awesome military robots, is sending it off for testing by the Army. Click past the jump to see video of it in action.
When American and coalition troops rolled into Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, they quickly began doing exactly what any military playbook said they should do, leveraging their superior firepower and aerial superiority into a string of quick victories. In both engagements, coalition forces quickly hammered conventional military threats into submission and settled into a long role of occupation and rebuilding. That's when the bombs started going off.
We just can’t resist, so here’s one more video from the maker of the military’s robotic pack animals. Check out Boston Dynamics’ new AlphaDog — which was previously nicknamed BullDog — in a newly released, DARPA-sanctioned video.
It runs along a guide rail, keeps its balance after two guys try to tip it over, and rights itself after lying on its side, not unlike your pet getting up from its nap.
That fun video of the BigDog robot we shared last week may have been impressive, but apparently the robot is about to be eclipsed by another member of its own family.
Boston Dynamics is building a bigger, sturdier version of the military's future trusty companion, and will likely unveil it within a few months.