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So, you have most likely seen BigDog before, the robot ‘pack-horse’ developed by Boston Dynamics. But here is some more up-to-date footage of the ‘Dog, this time coping with ice and snow, and also jumping - for a machine, rather gracefully. I have to say, it kinda makes Asimo look like a doddery old fart. Watch the film after the jump.
I still can’t quite get this to fit in a comfortable place in my head though. I mean, we see the quirky ‘hostess’ robots that those loveable, crazy Japanese engineers come up with (and you know that the engineers have no significant female in their life, and you know exactly WHY they are determined to make a life-like female robot) and they are all well and good. But they are so far from the uncanny valley – so unlike a real person – that you know they are artificial.
BigDog, however, is driving through the uncanny valley in a Mack Truck and deciding where to set up a tent for the night. You know it’s a machine – 70% of it is exposed machinery up top, and the loud petrol engine drones incessantly when outside. But its the damned legs. Thir movement is so naturalisitc and so fluid and so lifelike-speed that my brain can’t quite figure out if this is a machine or a cyborg – some ghastly half cow, half robot creation. And then I feel sorry for the cow.
And seeing it on the ice? It’s like somebody hacked Bambi apart with a Stryker saw to fit the mechanical stuff in. Did they have to put fur on the legs?
So it is strange. It’s a damn machine, but I still feel angry when the dude (a staple part of these films) kicks it to show how it recovers. Bad man! Bad scientist! No cake for you!
On the other hand, of course, the science geek in me thinks “Whoa…dude…”
With thanks to Xenophila.