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Whoa: Boston Dynamics Announces New WildCat Quadruped Robot

A new robot from Boston Dynamics can run outdoors, untethered, at up to 25 km/h

2 min read
Whoa: Boston Dynamics Announces New WildCat Quadruped Robot

Boston Dynamics has just updated its YouTube channel with some new videos. One of them is an update on Atlas. Another is an update on LS3. And the third is this: WildCat, a totally new quadruped robot based on Cheetah, and out of nowhere, there's this video of it bounding and galloping around outdoors, untethered, at up to 25 km/h (16 mph). Whoa.

Here's the video caption:

WildCat is a four-legged robot being developed to run fast on all types of terrain. So far WildCat has run at about 16 mph on flat terrain using bounding and galloping gaits. The video shows WildCat's best performance so far. WildCat is being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA's M3 program.

This video was only just posted (perhaps half an hour ago), and the Boston Dynamics website doesn't seem to have any additional information about the robot just yet.

While tonight's unveiling was somewhat of a surprise, we have been expecting this platform to show up at some point. A little over a year ago, when Boston Dynamics had Cheetah sprinting at over 45 km/h (28 mph), we learned that an untethered version called WildCat capable of running outdoors was in the works, and this is the concept image for that robot from September 2012:

That looks pretty close to the actual robot, doesn't it?

WildCat's current top speed of 25 km/h is significantly slower than Cheetah's 45 km/h, but we can only speculate as to whether that's a limitation imposed by the on-board power, the gait, or simply the fact that WildCat is (as far as we know) a newish robot that probably has a lot of refinement in its future. We also don't know how well WildCat might perform outside of a parking lot, or whether it's capable of the same sort of sensor-based obstacle avoidance as LS3 is.

Hopefully, we'll get more info on WildCat from Boston Dynamics in the next day or two, and we'll update this post as soon as we can.

[ Boston Dynamics ]

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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