Concept drawing for AlphaDog
While everyone’s concerned about whether algorithms are going to take over the earth and turn the world into a bunch of computerized interactions taking place amidst some sort of grey goo, we may yet have other AI issues to deal with. Boston Dynamics (a kind of real-life Cyberdyne Systems run by Dr. Doolittle) have been working on the sequel to their mechanized dog BigDog— a robotic canine that eats up rough terrain like it was the neighbor’s cat. It can walk, climb, carry lots of gear and generally walk about on four legs like a terrifying glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world where we’re ruled by rabid bionic animals.
And, as if to reinforce the idea that the singularity may yet turn out to be a four-legged affair, Boston Dynamics have released BigDog 2.0. Or AlphaDog (or LS3, if we’re to call it by its official title). Be still your beating human heart, as it’s only a lab proto at the moment, but still. BigDog could carry up to 340lbs and travelled 12.8 miles without refueling or stopping. Its bigger brother will have computer vision, and be able to carry 400lbs 20 miles in rough terrain. I think we all know where this is heading: AT-AT. Take at look at the beast below.
AlphaDog will be completed next year and, unsurprisingly, is funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and the US Marine Corps. In case you haven’t seen it, you can watch footage of his predecessor below, taking on ice, snow and leaping about like a petrifying hound-bot from Robot Hell. If you ever hear that whirring howl coming from behind you: run. Run for your bipedal life.