I’m sure all of you remember BigDog, the utterly terrifying biomimetic robot platform that dances over rough terrain on weird legs and makes a sound like it’s full of angry bees. You didn’t think they were going to give up on it, did you? No, it’s been a rousing success apparently, so much so that they decided to build one that outdoes the original in every way.
The AlphaDog, as they’re calling it, was created to be basically the practical version of BigDog, which, while compelling and scary, was too loud and couldn’t carry enough stuff. AlphaDog, on the other hand, will carry 400 pounds of gear for 20 miles in a day, without needing to be refueled.
Be sure to watch the video to the end. The now-traditional “shoving of the quadrupedal robot platform” is great, and then you get to see a new creepy behavior as it rights itself in an unreal way from a lying position.
Right now it’s powered externally and running on rails, but it’s not so hard to think of this thing in the field. With a GPS unit and some rudimentary depth-sensing cameras, it could confidently navigate most terrain or follow its “masters” along a trail. Though I doubt that feature will make it into first production AlphaDogs, scheduled for 2012.
Boston Dynamics’ webpage doesn’t have too much extra info, so keep an eye on their YouTube account for news.