Not very many people like war or the carnage war brings with it. However, it is hard to deny that spending on war weapons has had an indirect positive impact on the lives of regular people (the ones that don’t get blown up, of course). For example, without ARPANET — a project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense in the 60s — we may not have the Internet today… or at least not in its current form. So when I see a military-funded robot dog throwing cinder blocks across the roam, I am filled with terror at how it may be used on the battlefield but also excited about the possibilities of such technology off the battlefield.
Boston Dynamics, a US-based company that makes and researches robots, has released footage of its ‘BigDog’ (a four-legged, 3 feet long [0.91 m], 2.5 feet tall [0.76 m], and 240 pounds heavy [110 kg] robot dog) picking up and hurling a cinder block across the room. BigDog, which is funded by the Pentagon and has been under development since 2005, does a nifty little dance prior to the action but breaks no sweat in the process. Check it out:
Aside from throwing cinder blocks, the robot is able to navigate “difficult” terrain carrying a load of up to 340 pounds (150 kg) at a speed of 4 miles per hour (6.4 km/hour). It can also “perform simple tasks and obey voice commands”.
As already mentioned, BigDog is funded by the US military so there is no doubt it may find its way to a war zone in the future, potentially helping lift the burden off soldiers when it comes to heavy lifting or — in a more gruesome scenario — beating the hell out of whoever is deemed the enemy. However, as pointed out by director of Bristol Robotics Laboratory Chris Melhuish, the robot has potential for things like search and rescue, shopping assistance, construction, and more.
All I want to know is: where can I get one?