Boston Dynamics' Bigger BigDog Robot Is Alive

The company that brought you the BigDog quadruped now has a bigger beast

2 min read
Boston Dynamics' Bigger BigDog Robot Is Alive

UPDATE 9/28 10:55 a.m.:  Looks like the embargo on the videos was broken. At least one person has posted videos on YouTube. We're including these vids below.
UPDATE 9/28 12:26 p.m.: Videos were removed. Sorry, folks, we'll have to wait for the official vids.
UPDATE 9/30 4:05 a.m.: Video of Boston Dynamics' new, bigger quadruped, called AlphaDog, is here. Vid of Petman still not available.

boston dynamics ls3 bulldog robot quadruped

Boston Dynamics, the company that brought the world the beloved BigDog quadruped robot, is now showing off its newest beast.

Think BigDog on steroids. The new robot is stronger, more agile, and bigger than BigDog. The official name is LS3 (Legged Squad Support System), but it seems that the Boston Dynamics guys are calling it BullDog instead.

Marc Raibert, the flower-patterned-shirt-wearing founder and president of Boston Dynamics, discussed the LS3 project in a keynote talk today at the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems.

Boston Dynamics, based in Waltham, Mass., has made significant progress in transforming the DARPA-funded LS3 robotic mule project into reality.

boston dynamics ls3 quadruped robot bulldog

boston dynamics ls3 cad image

Like BigDog, the new robot is designed to assist soldiers in carrying heavy loads over rough terrain. But whereas the original BigDog could carry a payload of 340 pounds (about 150 kilograms) and had a range of 12 miles (20 kilometers), LS3 can carry 400 pounds (180 kilograms) and will have a range of 20 miles (about 30 kilometers).

It's also quieter, and the Boston Dynamics engineers are teaching it some new tricks: It will be able to jump over obstacles, right itself after a fall, and navigate with greater autonomy than its predecessor.

Raibert awed the audience with some amazing videos of the LS3 robot mule navigating rough terrain, trotting, and getting shoved (without losing its balance) not by one but two people at the same time! Alas, we can't show you the videos yet. Raibert told us that he's still getting permission from DARPA to make them public. So in a week or two we'll have them for you.

Raibert also talked about Boston Dynamics' humanoid project, called Petman. It's an adult-sized humanoid that the U.S. Army, which funds the project, will use to test chemical suits and other protective gear.

boston dynamics petman humanoid robot

Petman is another amazing Boston Dynamics creation. Raibert again stunned the audience with some really impressive videos of the humanoid walking, kneeling, squatting, and even doing push-ups!

This is the first time I see a machine performing movements like that. They look remarkably human, yet there's something uncanny valley-esque to them. No wonder Petman creeps out even Raibert himself. And you guessed it: The videos are embargoed as well; we hope to have them here soon.

By the way, if you like robot dogs, Boston Dynamics is hiring. Check out all robotics projects at the company in the slide below.

boston dynamics robotics projects

Images: Boston Dynamics

The Conversation (0)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page
Blue

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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