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Massive EU Program To Study Three-legged Dogs 85

DMandPenfold writes "A multi-billion dollar European Union IT research fund will help study the behavior of three-legged dogs, it has been revealed. The fund will support extensive studies into how three-legged dogs move. There is a particular focus on how the dogs balance and function, given their missing limb."
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Massive EU Program To Study Three-legged Dogs

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  • HUH?

    Really? Billions of dollars in three legged dogs ey?

    What in the world are they thinking about? I know I know, three legged dawgs.

    • Billions of dollars in three legged dogs
      While this sounds excessive, it's only truly crazy to consider that after they convert euros to dollars to start the program they just have to convert them back to spend on the local expenses. Think how many more three legged dogs could benefit if only the researchers hadn't pissed away a good 20% in paying the exchange fees twice.

    • Re:I well wo... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @10:31AM (#32964108)

      No, not billion dollars for 3-legged dogs. They are funded by a fund that hands out a billion dollars in research funds to thousands of projects. So dogs will only get a tiny fraction of it.

      • The dogs will get none of it. If they're lucky, they'll get a couple of meals every day, in exchange for running with sensors attached all over their body, under bright lights, for 18 hours a day...

  • Much more interesting are the few two legged dogs that manage to get around.
  • by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @10:17AM (#32963818)

    Did they hear about the three legged dog that walked into a saloon?

    The barkeep asked him what he wanted.

    He said: "I'm lookin' for the man that shot my paw!"

  • by jfoobaz ( 1844794 ) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @10:18AM (#32963838)

    Towards the bottom of the article, it mentions that the purpose of the study is "... to develop advanced robots that can help animals and even humans cope with function after the loss of a limb."

    The headline and summary make it sound like utterly frivolous bullshit, when it's actually important research into motion and balance techniques in living creatures that can be applied to robotics.

    Typical Slashdot.

    • by starfishsystems ( 834319 ) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @10:42AM (#32964282) Homepage
      From the perspective of cognition this is very interesting stuff, in fact. As everyone knows, four-legged animals make use of multiple gaits: walking and cantering for example. These gaits are dynamic, and there is no such thing as an intermediate gait. Halfway between walking and cantering is called falling down. So an animal has to know how to accomplish a shift between gaits in mid-stride.

      So there's already lots going on cognitively here, just with ordinary gaits. Now imagine that misfortune has struck and there is one less limb. What happens, not just kinematically but cognitively? Is the pattern for a preexisting gait reconfigured, or is there some degree of latent capability that wakes up?
    • by mibe ( 1778804 )
      They're making the tripods from War of the Worlds. Large Hadron Collider is obviously to produce an energy source to power them. Look out for heat-ray research on the horizon.
    • Yes. My guess is that the "billions" is actually the funding for the organisation that has many projects, including one on damage compensating AI walking robots, which has a task involving looking at how animals cmpensate for lost limbs.
    • Towards the bottom of the article...

      I think you mean typical media, not just typical slashdot. This is what the study is about, it should be inside the first paragraph, the methods the study uses (3-legged dogs) are much less important to the overall understanding of the subject and should be farther down. But then, that wouldn't make a sensationalist headline, so why would they want to do that.

    • Normally I'm all for studies that don't have any obvious near term benefit, but this is ridiculous. It's not a particularly useful set of studies to be making for the purposes of robotics, as a robot is going to be designed so as to not have that extra moment of inertia that 3 legged animals have to cope with. If you really want interesting useful stuff, the formerly quadrupeds that are now bipedal in nature are much more interesting in that respect.

      As for making robotic prosthesises, perhaps at some poi
      • by Flea of Pain ( 1577213 ) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @11:34AM (#32965174)

        Giving it a robotic leg is just plane silly.

        Which, for those of you not in the know, is less than car silly, but more than boat silly. Still, I think that method of comparing silly levels is plain silly.

        • by gv250 ( 897841 )

          Giving it a robotic leg is just plane silly.

          Which, for those of you not in the know, is less than car silly, but more than boat silly. Still, I think that method of comparing silly levels is plain silly.

          No, you misunderstand. Plane silly is less than space silly, but more than line silly.

          In fact, there is only one thing less then line silly, and beyond that there is no point.

      • by pspahn ( 1175617 )

        Maybe they're just suffering from phantom limb syndrome and all they need is a mirror box.

        If you were to lose a limb, would you be so unhappy that it would just be time for "sleep"?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        A robot might lose a leg. What if you have an all-terrain robot, rock climbing... it's useful to have 4 limbs, maybe 6 or 8. And then it loses random limbs....
      • Our Cairn Terrier pulled an Evel Knievel off the couch when he was 6 months old and broke his back left leg. He got an infection (and even with treatment)...and he had to lose the leg. I can tell you one thing - he is a fighter. I carried him outside the morning after his surgery and helped him stand so he could piss. He was up walking that afternoon...and I had to stop him from running up the stairs 3 days later.

        Ours runs rip-shit-riot around the house and lives a wonderful life. He plays with other
      • by osu-neko ( 2604 )

        Normally I'm all for studies that don't have any obvious near term benefit, but this is ridiculous. It's not a particularly useful set of studies to be making ...

        Well, one of the differences between the philosophical mind and the scientific mind is that the former loves to reason out conclusions a priori like you're doing above, whereas the latter likes to actually test things. It's impossible to say until after the study is done whether it will yield any useful results. There are good reasons to think it will, though, as the same neural processes are pretty much guaranteed in all mammals when it comes to how they going about reorganizing their locomotive systems.

    • The headline and summary make it sound like utterly frivolous bullshit, when it's actually important research into motion and balance techniques in living creatures that can be applied to robotics.

      And to add insult to injury, it's on Idle. I think /. needs roles for their editors, i.e. Science Editor, Civil Rights Editor, Gaming Editor, Book Review Editor, etc.

  • Nice to know... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Nargg ( 1678106 )
    I guess there's some irony knowing that the EU has as much issues with wasted government grants as we do here in the US.
    • Irony means writing the opposite of what you intend your reader to understand, so I'm at a loss to understand your post. Are you one of the "Americans that don't get irony" stereotypes? And this obviously isn't wasted money; it's looking into robotics applications.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The ladies call me the Three Legged Dog, and I'd love to show you how I move.

  • Automail anyone? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    1 step closer to automail... :)

  • I just don't see what possible value that studying three-legged dogs to bring to the table. How to help leg-challenged horses?

    How about as fodder for jokes?...

    This traveling salesman is _way_ out in the hills and approaches a farmer to try to sell his wares. He notices a three legged pig hopping around in the front yard and asks the farmer about it. "That's no ordinary pig!" exclaims the farmer. "That pig is smart! We all owe our lives to that thar pig! Why, last winter we wuz all asleep and a spark
  • actual information (Score:5, Informative)

    by mattdm ( 1931 ) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @10:33AM (#32964142) Homepage

    Here's the actual project site: http://locomorph.eu/ [locomorph.eu]

    Obviously not all of the 1.3 billion USD (not actually "multi-billion" -- the Euro/Dollar conversion isn't that bad!) is going to research on "three-legged dogs". It's about robotic locomotion in general, of which that may be one component (although the project web site doesn't particularly mention it).

    Also, it's a four-year project split between six universities. That's about $50 million per year for each site, which is still a big grant but doesn't seem so crazy for the field.

  • Most of the article focuses on 1 billion vs 3-legged dogs. Only the last paragraph mentions that a total of 16000 researchers will be funded. I'm quite sure some of the remaining 15995 are doing something useful or interesting too, but somehow they neglect to mention this.

    A typical example of modern media hyping things up, a submitter that makes it even worse, and a Slashdot editor who thinks what the heck it's summer lets put it on the front page.

    • If people stopped reading slashdot because they didn't like the articles, then slashdot editors would change their act.

      But we don't. We watch Idols and so they serve us Idols. The news has become froth at the mouth headlines because that is what people watch.

      Follow the money, the money always comes from the viewer. YOU (and me)

      • > Follow the money, the money always comes from the viewer. YOU (and me)

        YOU, maybe. Not me. I block all ads.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It used to be that The U.S. let the world in everything: steel production , electricity production, coal, silly government boondoggle projects, etc. Now we wake up one day and find that the Europeans are pulling ahead of us. leaving us in the dust in 3 leg dog research.
    Another sad note on the decline of our once great country.

  • obligatory Homestarrunner reference: http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail109.html [homestarrunner.com]

    "I can make it on my own."

  • I was just watching Life Aquatic last night and there was a three legged dog running around, its movement was pretty incredible especially when it was running.

  • Millions, maybe. Billions to study animal locomotion ? NFW

  • Robotics links (Score:4, Informative)

    by Onnimikki ( 63071 ) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @10:52AM (#32964466) Homepage
    Hi, The Locomorph Group ( http://locomorph.eu/ [locomorph.eu] ) is made up of science and engineering partners. The science partners (University of Antwerp and the University of Jena, where the dogs are being researched) are guiding the robotics research on shape-changing robots at Ryerson University (the only non-EU partner, located in Canada), the University of Zurich, the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne and the University of Southern Denmark. More stories on the project can be found here: http://idw-online.de/de/news379765 [idw-online.de] (in German) http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=EN_NEWS_FP7&ACTION=D&DOC=2&CAT=NEWS&QUERY=0129d6293767:57a8:2486afcf&RCN=32339 [europa.eu] (in English), http://www.lemondeinformatique.fr/actualites/lire-l-ue-octroie-1-2-milliard-d-euros-a-la-recherche-en-robotique-et-dans-les-reseaux-31224.html [lemondeinformatique.fr] (in French), http://www.jenapolis.de/69486/nicht-nur-spielzeug-wissenschaftler-demonstrieren-laufroboter/ [jenapolis.de] (in German) There are also some informal photos from our meeting last week: http://www.ee.ryerson.ca/~jasmith/locomorph/photos/jena_2010/ [ryerson.ca] Other photos can be found here: http://idw-online.de/de/image120758 [idw-online.de] http://www.jenapolis.de/69486/nicht-nur-spielzeug-wissenschaftler-demonstrieren-laufroboter/ [jenapolis.de]
  • Breed for 3 legs - wears out the parks and other grassy spots less - net savings over 4 centuries = $1 billion (not counting inflation)
  • I owned one (Score:3, Informative)

    by LatencyKills ( 1213908 ) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @11:04AM (#32964662)
    I had a rottweiler mix that lost his front left leg to osteosarcoma. At slow speeds, he would move kind of like an inchworm, hopping his remaining front leg forward, then jumping both back legs forward, wash, rinse, repeat. He could do it while keeping his head on the ground, say following a scent trail. At higher speeds (and even after the amputation he was faster than his brother) he would do a run in which his two right legs would move, then the remaining left rear would move. His head would bob up and down as he ran. Oh, and when he peed, he would lift his left rear leg, and balance on his two right feet. BTW, the cancer came back and got him a year after the amputation - bone cancer of the back left leg, and we didn't want to try him as a two legged dog, though I understand some of those get around as well.
    • I used to see a dog that apparently had non-functional rear legs.

      It's hard to describe the device he was riding on, but it was like half a toy scooter with a harness. He seemed to be able to pull himself along with just his front legs, at least on a flattish surface.

      I reckon injuries on the same side or opposite corners would be a bit of a bugger, though.

      • Some breeds such as German shepherds are very susceptible to arthritis and other joint problems. Some of them will effectively have the rear part of their bodies painfully seize up and not necessarily when they are in advanced years. Hence the harness wheel gizmo. Sad really. The reason they get this in the first place is the years and years of inbreeding.
  • For $100,000 they can watch me walk on my hands lol. At that price, can they afford not to?
  • Interesting study ;

    I wonder if there is interest in studying the adaptive phase of the subjects transfering between 4 to 3 legs. What effect does age of the subjects have? I hope they study the transition of gates on tread mill.

    I would love access to this data and a peak at the models. Using Neural-nets? Evolutionary nets?

    I imagine a 3 legged robot would be the most cost effective proposition system.

    Cool stuff!

  • by Brown ( 36659 ) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @11:43AM (#32965328) Homepage

    The implication that the EU is spending billions of euros on a program to study 3-legged dogs is completely misleading. The fund in question appears to be FP7 (Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]), which funds a huge variety of researchers on many differnet topics.

    If you look at what I think is the relevant EU site [europa.eu], the project received EUR 2.7 million from the 'Embodied intelligence' Initiative within the 'Information and communication technologies' (ICT) Thematic area of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

    Which wouldn't make much of a story I guess - "multi-billion" sounds waaay more impressive.


  • ...of how far Europe is ahead of the USA in science.

  • OMG ! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    OMG ! Those billions of dollars could have been invested in the military in order to bring democracy in so many countries !


    Stupid europeons ! They'd all be speaking german if it wasn't for us ! Just give us the money ! We are good with money !

  • If they run out of 3-legged dogs to study, we can always make more!
  • Why are they all named "Lucky"?
  • "There is a particular focus on how the dogs balance and function, given their missing limb." I'm not sure that giving the dog their missing will make any difference, and I don't think many three legged dogs still have their third leg sitting around...

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. -- Bill Vaughn