Meet BigDog, a headless quadruped straight out of Star Wars that can scramble up snowy slopes and keep its balance on slippery sheets of ice. Whether the video footage of this new “creature” from Boston Robotics fills you with delight or makes you want to run for the hills, you have to admit that this is a profound breakthrough. A robot that can navigate harsh terrain as easily as an animal — as demonstrated when BigDog stumbles and then rights itself after being kicked over by a pesky human — would be very useful, freaky-looking though it may be.
While it lacks recognizable human or animal features beyond its spindly legs, BigDog seems to trigger a visceral reaction in humans; maybe it’s the chainsaw-like noise, or maybe it’s the sight of it pogo-ing through an obstacle course in the BR lab. Either way, it’s surely only a matter of time before those things are running errands and replacing wheelchairs — or hunting us in the woods for sport.Read More