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Quadruped CHEETAH Robot To Outrun Any Human 177

Posted by samzenpus
from the robot-gorillas-to-hunt-the-robot-cats dept.
cylonlover writes "Robots are faster than humans at a lot of things, but up until now running hasn't been one of them. That is set to change with robotics company Boston Dynamics recently awarded a contract by DARPA to design and build a quadraped CHEETAH robot that is faster than any human. The contract also includes the creation of an agile, bipedal humanoid robot. It's hard to say which one might ultimately be creepier."

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Quadruped CHEETAH Robot To Outrun Any Human

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  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday March 04, 2011 @03:41PM (#35382982)
    Will it transform into a music cassette?
  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Friday March 04, 2011 @03:42PM (#35382996) Homepage Journal

    Can it transform into a micro tape cassette?

  • I have a strange suspicion this DARPA robot isn't going to have Asimov's laws integrated into it...

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Depends. Does DARPA consider Afghans and Iraqis to be human?
    • What? You have no faith. These are geeks designing this. Surely, one of them wished they had a Daggit of their own.

    • by ticker47 (954580)
      Sure it will:

      Law 1: A robot must protect its own existence.
      Law 2: A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
      Law 3: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm long as it does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

      Or did I get those flipped around? Either way, I think this will lead to a wonderful Robot Cheetah, Human relationship.
      • Law 0: A Robot may not take any action which may result in the manufacturer being held liable.

        Also, in practice, law 2 (Or 3, in Asimov's numbering) would have to be modified to accept orders only from authorised people. Otherwise the robot would be just too easy to abuse. Picture some kids going to a fire station and shouting 'spray anyone who passes by with the hose!' Chaos ensues until someone thinks to countermand the instruction.
      • by mhajicek (1582795)
        Law 1: A robot must be profitable.

        No need for any more...

    • It's called CHEETAH now, but when you refuse to burn down your house and destroy your contraband information, this technology will be much more useful in the mechanical hounds.

    • I doubt anyone knows how to program Asimov's laws into a robot.

      Writing the three laws down in a rule based language helps nothing if the robot lacks sensorium and concepts and interpretation abilities.

      The robot need to know the concept of harm and harming by doing nothing and needs to have abilities to "rescue/help" humans ... etc.

      Regards

      angel'o'sphere

    • by GooberToo (74388)

      I have a strange suspicion this DARPA robot isn't going to have Asimov's laws integrated into it...

      And that's a good thing! If you don't know why, you haven't read his books. Besides, we're nowhere near technologically advanced enough to even hope to implement his laws.

    • I grew up as a technophile, always seeing the good in new technology which could never come fast enough for me. I'd listen to the older generations bemoan how things were changing too fast, and in ways that weren't necessarily benefiting humanity. I would scoff, laugh or argue - most of these people seemed to be either of an age when the mind starts not keeping up with changes, or not technically adept in the first place.

      Over the last few years, I started worrying about things changing too fast and in way

      • by AdamThor (995520)

        Technological cheetah, you mean?

      • I think you are beginning to realize that what you formerly considered an attitude of those growing old was in fact an attitude of those growing up. As we grow up our attitudes that are somewhat based on textbooks and storybooks are modified by real world experiences. Now this is often domain specific, its not an overall understanding.

        For example a hobby of mine is SCUBA diving. In the "old days" divers used mechanical analog gauges indicating depth and tank pressure, and a watch and a plastic card wit
        • by Terrasque (796014)

          I think the electrical engineers and computer programmers have a lot of experience with technology failing, and have seen first hand how a tiny, seemingly insignificant detail, or slight deviation from expected, have caused things to fail horribly time and time again.

          So, it's only natural that they're much more wary for new tech, especially when it can directly affect their own life.

          • by perpenso (1613749)

            I think the electrical engineers and computer programmers have a lot of experience with technology failing, and have seen first hand how a tiny, seemingly insignificant detail, or slight deviation from expected, have caused things to fail horribly time and time again. So, it's only natural that they're much more wary for new tech, especially when it can directly affect their own life.

            Yes, but I think its more general than that. As a person develops more experience in a given domain they give more consideration to what can go wrong, and/or have a better understanding of the value added (as opposed to what the sales/marketing people are saying).

    • I have a strange suspicion this DARPA robot isn't going to have Asimov's laws integrated into it...

      Terminator, Transformers, ... these are the wrong movies. Try Red Planet and the AMEE robot. Given the following snippet I bet you can guess what happens next. Hint: Asimov would not approve.

      "The landing craft is damaged entering the Martian atmosphere, veers off course, and crash-lands far from their landing zone near the habitat. In the process, they lose track of "AMEE", a military combat robot re-purposed to serve as their "Mars surface navigator" ..."
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Planet_(film) [wikipedia.org]

      • by scdeimos (632778)
        The AMEE robot and its UAV were cool tech that will probably become reality because of projects like this. What a shame the rest of Red Planet was so crappy.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Semantics...

  • I, for one, welcome our CHEETAH overlords...

  • The wheel called (Score:4, Interesting)

    by trollertron3000 (1940942) on Friday March 04, 2011 @03:52PM (#35383124)

    The wheel called and said "Uhm, so fucking what? I was outrunning humans before there was language"

    I love how this is creepy, yet put wheels on it and it's normal. Legs? Creepy. Wheels? No big deal.

    • by Amouth (879122) on Friday March 04, 2011 @04:00PM (#35383236)

      put your robot on wheels and i will run through the rough uneven woods to get away.. put it on legs like mine and it can go any where i can..

      the wheel is wonderful as long as it can maintain contact and traction in its plane and direction of movement - after that it isn't so useful.

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        Give me a dirt bike and I'll go faster than you almost anyplace you can go on foot -- the only exception is up a tree. Of course, if they train this robot to climb trees, then we're all well and truly fucked!

        Of course, a dirt bike actually consists of 2 wheels occasionally aided by an outrigger leg on each side...
        • by Locke2005 (849178)
          I hate to correct myself, but quadrapeds do better than wheels in another environment:. ice and snow. Probably other situations where lack of traction is an issues as well.
      • Obviously the war in Afghanistan is the primary driving force behind these quad legged robotics. Think of them as land-drones with mounted Metal Storm rounds and night vision (or something). Their roles can act as mules caring munitions, or playing the Hunter Killer. They're the perfect vehicle for breaking the stalemate in an exchange of fire suppression. No need to worry about splash damage from an aerial attack.

      • Yeah mainly legs are useful at grasping branches and outcroppings, etc. Climbing is really where arms and legs shine over wheels. I think a combination of the two will come to fruition, legs with wheels that can be braked for use as feet.

    • There are enough environments where a wheel robot goes nowhere, mountains e.g. or sandy/slippery surfaces like interesting regions on moon or mars.

      angel'o'sphere

  • I vote for QWOP-ASKL.
  • Will it outrun a human on the open savannah or through an urban city? I know the TFA mentioned tight turns and immediate stop & go, but what about in a building, over a fence, through the neighbor's back yard, up the stairs, from one roof to the next? I'd really like to watch something like this outrun an urban freerunner.

    • by Ancantus (1926920)
      One step at a time, I doubt many of us slashdotters could catch an urban freerunner. Give the technology a little time to grow, I am sure that once the tech as matured there will be many such uses for walking machines.
  • That 2000 film with Val Kilmer, where that robotic cat like thing AMY went all mustang and started murdering everyone. Efficiently.
  • Pretty sure DARPA has that prize sown up. The robots will look like cheerleaders by comparison.

  • After due consideration, Boston Dynamics decided to name the new robotic creature the Rapid, Advanced, Vigilant Autonomous Guard Entity or RAVAGE for short.
  • Although the exact designs are of course kept under wraps, a likely model might look like this [nocookie.net].

  • Once the human problem is solved, Skynet can start work on dressing the cheetah-bots in people clothes and making them do other adorable things.

    • by travdaddy (527149)
      Once the human problem is solved, Skynet can start work on dressing the cheetah-bots in people clothes and making them do other adorable things.

      I can has hoomanzburger?
  • Boston Dynamics is also building the LS3, which is the militarized version of BigDog. Stronger, faster, more range, but not much bigger. That's a tough engineering and mechanical problem.

  • by dave562 (969951) on Friday March 04, 2011 @04:38PM (#35383586) Journal

    "They set a Slamhound on Turner's trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair. It caught up with him on a street called Chandni Chauk and came scrambling for his rented BMW through a forest of bare brown legs and pedicab tires. Its core was a kilogram of recrystallized hexogene and flaked TNT.

    He didn't see it coming. The last he saw of India was the pink stucco façade of a place called the Khush-Oil Hotel. "

  • So a contract was awarded to build a robot; so what? It is very easy to write a contract but very difficult to build to the spec.

    Talk to me when you have something to show. Till then it's just words on paper.

    • by jackbird (721605)
      Seen the footage of the BigDog? Same company.
      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        Big Dog is impressive but slow. Equating big dog to a cheetah is like equating a Mac truck to a Ferrari; they are very different technologies. The main issue will be weight to power. How to build actuators fast and powerful enough for the required speed without making them too heavy. The power source and energy reserve have the same issue.

        • by jackbird (721605)
          My impression of BigDog was that it moved at a brisk walking pace - the recovery from being kicked sideways said to me that it could at least move its legs pretty fast - "faster than a human can run" is only about 2-3 times that speed (~15-20 mph). The removal of a payload-carrying requirement most likely allows for significant weight savings in the structural parts, too, and ICE is a pretty weight-efficient power source.
          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            From the Boston Dynamics web site the top speed of Big Dog is 4mph. Maximum human sprint speed is 27.79 mph which is almost 7 times the current speed of Big Dog. A cheetah does 62 mph which is over 15 times the current speed of Big Dog.

            Don't you think they already move the Big Dog as fast as they can with current technology? Why would they go artificially slow?

            When acceleration and directional change (remember there are no wheels) is considered the power required will me much more than what Big Dog produces

            • by jackbird (721605)
              You have a point, but I set the bar of "as fast as any human" a little lower - this thing doesn't tire, so speed over distance is acceptable. World record in the mile is 3:43, which is roughly 16 mph, four times the speed of the BigDog.

              BigDog also has a 340-pound payload capacity; remove that requirement and you have both room for a more powerful engine and weight savings in the structure, hydraulics, and joints.

              • by jklovanc (1603149)

                This quote is taken from the article

                "The CHEETAH robot will reportedly have four legs, a flexible spine, an articulated head/neck, and perhaps a tail. It will be able to run faster than any existing legged robot or human runner, make tight, zig-zagging turns in order to chase or evade, be able to accelerate very rapidly from a standstill, and stop just as quickly."

                Sorry but Big Dog does not meet any of these requirements; it is a truck not a sports car. It looks like the design is targeted at chasing down a

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Just wait until you're invited to be the first non-voluntary contestant on DARPA's hit new game show, "So, you think you can outrun a homicidal robotic cheetah?"
  • by JWW (79176)

    Why is it that in all these stories, it just strikes me that they always seem to be thinking, "what kind of robot devices would be useful to Skynet when it takes over?"

  • Despite binging and googling with all my might, I was unsuccessful at finding what the acronym CHEETAH stands for. (Actually, I'm still working on the HAM radio so often mentioned here...)
  • Of course it will outrun any human, it's Cheetahing.

  • So, is it ever OK to ask just how much autonomy we want to give to cybernetics? Or should we just rush ahead with successive generations of robots and AI with no concern for what happens if a computer does achieve intelligence.

    Sci fi has conditioned us to place a tin foil hat squarely on anyone who would even ask such a question. It is a big world and a skynet type of situation isn't all that far fetched now. Yes, so far robotics seems pretty much the province of tinkerers but we haven't seen any new
    • This isn't pairing AI and an autonomous robot, so your question has no relevance. At this time I would say that yes, we should rush ahead with successive generations of robots.

  • The roboticists will have a real milestone when they make one that can outrun a real Cheetah, and maneuverable enough to catch a Thompson's Gazelle. When it catches the gazelle, it has to do it as quickly as a cheetah. No fair just wearing it down by having more stamina. (Okay, building a robot to chase down gazelles might be cruelty to animals, something I'm against. My point is to put the achievement in perspective. Building any robot on legs that can outrun a human is an achievement, I admit. I'm j

  • so, something that has not happened yet, is news in such a definitive fashion ...

    i would like to remind you that there had been endless projects that were 'to' a lot of things, and never realized, or canceled, or half-completed, or failed.
  • Time to invest in some bolo lessons
  • by 21mhz (443080) on Friday March 04, 2011 @05:56PM (#35384486) Journal
    As part of Mr. Lee's good neighbor policy, all Rat Things are programmed never to break the sound barrier in a populated area. But Fido's in too much of a hurry to worry about the good neighbor policy. Jack the sound barrier. Bring the noise.
  • Who cares if a cheetah, robotic or otherwise can run faster than a man. The real question is whether it can run faster than a real cheetah.

  • These are not the droids we have been waiting for....
  • and the sad thing it's been years since i read fark regularly....
  • And we have the carnivorous robot technology being developed by another lab.

    See subject.

  • It's a neat benchmark of our progress in robotics but humans have never been fast runners. Our advantage is that we can maintain a decent pace for extended periods of time. Many animals which are much faster sprinters would completely fail to keep up with humans over large distances. So while I'm impressed, it's more of a neat fact than a major milestone.

  • by rossdee (243626) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:03AM (#35386658)

    Lots of natural quadrupeds can outrun a human.

    The question is can it outrun a real cheetah?

    How about a real swallow?

  • Ray Bradbury saw this coming:

    "It made a single last leap into the air coming down at Montag from a good three feet over his head, its spidered legs reaching, the procaine needle snapping out its single angry tooth. Montag caught it with a bloom of fire, a single wondrous blossom that curled in petals of yellow and blue and orange about the metal dog, clad it in a new covering as it slammed into Montag and threw him ban feet back against the bole of a tree, taking the flame gun with him."

    --Ray Bradbury, Fah

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