Boston Dynamics Big Dog and other military transport robots


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Any chance Sony will pick up on that and give us pimped up version of AIBO?
Holy #@$%! I did NOT expect those things to perform sommersaults :eek:
i remember back in the early 1980's reading an article in 'Scientific American', about developments at the Leg Lab, but i don't have any longer....... :'(

Quick run down:

- Increased heat signature
- Vulnerable to small arms
- May prove stubborn and/or spit
- Provided with fodder/water, can manufacture itself in the field
- Scares cavalry

- Increased radar signature
- Has no sense of self-preservation and can be told to walk off a cliff
- Requires three hours of servicing by two technicians per six hours on the move?
- Requires periodic refuelling (via. truck, airplane, robot-camel tanker version)
- Scares air-cavalry

You forgot smell.....depending, of course, on the fuel used in Robo-Camel, I'm guessing Bio-Camel smells considerably worse..... ;)

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has for years explored the possibility of using legged robots to carry troop supplies where wheeled robots dare not tread (particularly through narrow mountain passes or up across uneven terrain). Turns out, building a legged robot that’s more of a benefit than burden isn’t so easy.

The 165-pound (75-kilogram) BigDog represents a major step forward for legged locomotion, a problem whose complexity had frustrated engineers, even prompting some to believe it was impossible to solve. How, for example, could a robot know where to place each foot when walking? “The problem seemed too hard; it just didn’t seem like it could be done,” says Sanjiv Singh, a research professor with Carnegie Mellon University’s (C.M.U.) Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh who in 2005 and 2006 worked with BigDog creator Boston Dynamics to develop its computer vision system.



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Orionblamblam said:
Big Dog has been out there for some years, with videos all over YouTube. The only *really* bad thing about it is just how freakin' loud it is.

You probably already know this but it appears the noise is from the internal combustion engine that drives the generator to produce electricity to power it. When it's in the lab plugged into a wall it seems relatively quiet. Wonder how many pounds of batteries it would take to replace the engine and fuel? On the other hand DARPA (IIRC) is working on producing electricity onboard from organic matter to power future unmanned land vehicles. Yeah, they would eat. So cross a zombie with the Terminator. . . B) Come to think of it it reminds me of the "rats" in the story "The Second Variety". Imagine being an enemy soldier and knowing that that robot isn't going to just kill you, it's going to EAT you. Yeah, I know it's down the road a ways but still.
i'd imagine they'd make nice stretchers in a battlefield

the running robots does remind me of urbanmechs. . . :D
From Boston Dynamics website:

BigDog - The Most Advanced Rough-Terrain Robot on Earth

BigDog is the alpha male of the Boston Dynamics robots. It is a rough-terrain robot that walks, runs, climbs and carries heavy loads. BigDog is powered by an engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system. BigDog has four legs that are articulated like an animal’s, with compliant elements to absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. BigDog is the size of a large dog or small mule; about 3 feet long, 2.5 feet tall and weighs 240 lbs.

BigDog's on-board computer controls locomotion, servos the legs and handles a variety of sensors. BigDog’s control system keeps it balanced, navigates, and regulates its energetics as conditions vary. Sensors for locomotion include joint position, joint force, ground contact, ground load, a gyroscope, LIDAR and a stereo vision system. Other sensors focus on the internal state of BigDog, monitoring the hydraulic pressure, oil temperature, engine functions, battery charge and others.

In separate tests BigDog runs at 4 mph, climbs slopes up to 35 degrees, walks across rubble, climbs a muddy hiking trail, walks in snow and water, and carries a 340 lb load. BigDog set a world's record for legged vehicles by traveling 12.8 miles without stopping or refueling.

The ultimate goal for BigDog is to develop a robot that can go anywhere people and animals can go. The program is funded by the Tactical Technology Office at DARPA.


Boston Dynamics BigDog Overview:

Boston Dynamics BigDog paper:

Boston Dynamics BigDog schematic



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Boston Dynamics LittleDog

LittleDog was developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA. It is used for research on legged locomotion and learning by groups at MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, USC, U Penn and IHMC.






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Boston Dynamics LS3 - Leg Squad Support Systems

LS3 is a dynamic robot designed to go anywhere Soldiers and Marines go on foot. Each LS3 will carry up to 400 lbs of gear and enough fuel for missions covering 20 miles and lasting 24 hours. LS3 will not need a driver, because it will automatically follow a leader using computer vision or travel to designated locations using sensing and GPS. The development of LS3 will take 30 months, with first walk out scheduled for 2012. The development of LS3 is being funded by DARPA and the US Marine Corps.

Boston Dynamics has assembled an extraordinary team to develop the LS3, including engineers and scientists from Boston Dynamics, Bell Helicopter, AAI Corporation, Carnegie Mellon, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Woodward HRT.




Artist's impression of Boston Dynamics LS3 AlphaDog (also known as BullDog)

Boston Dynamics LS3 AlphaDog from IEEE presentation.



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It's really great to see the progress, that was made during the last years in transferring the physics
of walking onto roboters, especially their ability to overcome disturbances. But I'm afraid, that
carrying a suitable power source stillis the main problem, that will prevent them from replacing wheeled
vehicles for a long time, as walking has a higher energy requirement, than driving.
Well IIRC, that is part of the gameplan for ATLAS - I just imagine that operating in a search and rescue / hazmat scenario might potentially be easier than a combat zone; at least when it's walking over uneven ground in a disaster zone, you don't have to also be scanning for IEDs and analysing humans for possible weaponry.
Boston Dynamics WildCat

Published on Oct 3, 2013

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. For more information about WIldCat visit our website at

Boston Dynamics LS3 Field Testing

Published on Oct 3, 2013

LS3, the Legged Squad Support System is a four-legged robot designed to travel 20 miles on rough terrain carrying 400 lbs of load. The video shows LS3 in field testing at Twentynine Palms, CA. Testing includes rough-terrain mobility, endurance, visually guided following, GPS guided maneuver, and overall reliability. Additional testing is taking place at various locations around the country, including Fort Picket VA, Fort Benning GA, Fort Devens MA and others. LS3 is being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA and the US Marine Corps. For more information visit our website at

Published on Feb 28, 2013

BigDog handles heavy objects. The goal is to use the strength of the legs and torso to help power motions of the arm. This sort of dynamic, whole-body approach to manipulation is used routinely by human athletes and will enhance the performance of advanced robots. Boston Dynamics is developing the control and actuation techniques needed for dynamic manipulation. The cinderblock weighs about 35 lbs and the best throw is a bit more than 17 ft. The research is funded by the Army Research Laboratory's RCTA program.


It appears that after field tests the military have ditched the mule and other robot projects with Boston Dynamics, especially prevalent were notes that the robots were far too loud to be in the field.
whitewhale said:
It appears that after field tests the military have ditched the mule and other robot projects with Boston Dynamics, especially prevalent were notes that the robots were far too loud to be in the field.

Quitting always fixes problems.
This isn't "quitting," it's recognizing that the current state of the art in power supplies isn't sufficient to make an operational system. Silent power sources with the energy density to power a walking robot on a day of field operations is a big goal, but also not a robotics project. Lots of people are working on such things, with limited degrees of success. Look for any breakthrough to come form the automotive world, not robotics.

This decision may also be influenced by the fact that Boston Dynamics is now owned by Alphabet (Google) and Google has said it intends to move away from new military contracts. They don't need DARPA's money to keep working on walking robots anymore.
TomS said:
This decision may also be influenced by the fact that Boston Dynamics is now owned by Alphabet (Google) and Google has said it intends to move away from new military contracts. They don't need DARPA's money to keep working on walking robots anymore.

The USMC and Darpa pulled the plug, not Google.

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