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Boston Dynamics Big Dog and other military transport robots

sferrin

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TomS said:
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.

It most certainly is quitting. So the power supply is noisy. So what? That just means you don't FIELD the thing, not that you stop development of the rest of the machine. Makes no sense that they'd throw the thing on a shelf and kill the program while they wait on the ultimate battery. ???
 

marauder2048

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sferrin said:
TomS said:
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.

It most certainly is quitting. So the power supply is noisy. So what? That just means you don't FIELD the thing, not that you stop development of the rest of the machine. Makes no sense that they'd throw the thing on a shelf and kill the program while they wait on the ultimate battery. ???

Wouldn't it be superfluous if exo-skeletons (enabled by the same advances in energy storage) are developed?
 

sferrin

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marauder2048 said:
Wouldn't it be superfluous if exo-skeletons (enabled by the same advances in energy storage) are developed?

Not IMO. Regardless of whatever happens with exoskeletons there will always be a place for 4-legged vehicles. Stopping just because batteries aren't there yet seems extraordinarily short-sighted.
 

Silencer1

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I wonder, if such 4-legged robots could be really useful for non-military purpose?

People tries to improve military vehicles with dramatic efforts, and forget that this technology could save lives or improve quality of life...
 

TomS

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Battery power (or fuel cells) isn't going to be there for years. It makes sense to let the civilian world develop the robotics side and revisit the military application when it's closer to useability.

Right now, as that USMC spokesman pointed out, they can't even really assess the tactical value of the robot because the noise issue overwhelms everything else.
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
Right now, as that USMC spokesman pointed out, they can't even really assess the tactical value of the robot because the noise issue overwhelms everything else.

You'd think they'd just stick a muffler on it. (Or a better one.) Any ideas how much power these things take compared to say, a quad? I've never heard quads were too noisy to use. I'd think, if anything, it would be the maintenance tail that would be the problem. Even if it were quiet as a church mouse, if it breaks down in the field what are they going to do?
 

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Indeed. it's not like they can just tow the thing back to a maintenance base...
 

jsport

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AeroFranz said:
Indeed. it's not like they can just tow the thing back to a maintenance base...
wheeled walkers are not unheard of, but... too much to list the disparage
 

marauder2048

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sferrin said:
Even if it were quiet as a church mouse, if it breaks down in the field what are they going to do?

Perhaps it's time to re-invent an old classic...
 

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dan_inbox

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Silencer1 said:
I wonder, if such 4-legged robots could be really useful for non-military purpose?
There are some developments for rescue in disaster areas already under way.
It is an Israeli firm IIRC.
 

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Silencer1 said:
I wonder, if such 4-legged robots could be really useful for non-military purpose?

People tries to improve military vehicles with dramatic efforts, and forget that this technology could save lives or improve quality of life...

Give Bear Gryles one, for testing. :) A lot of uses for a horse/mule/donkey that does not need food or water, just energy.
 

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bigvlada said:
Silencer1 said:
I wonder, if such 4-legged robots could be really useful for non-military purpose?

People tries to improve military vehicles with dramatic efforts, and forget that this technology could save lives or improve quality of life...

Give Bear Gryles one, for testing. :) A lot of uses for a horse/mule/donkey that does not need food or water, just energy.
Well food and water ARE energy for animals and can be found in nature while spare refined gasoline or a battery pack are a little harder to come by in the wild
 

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bobbymike said:
Well food and water ARE energy for animals and can be found in nature while spare refined gasoline or a battery pack are a little harder to come by in the wild

In principle, an advanced enough robot should be able to power itself in the field. Solar would be handy, but a built-in chemical reactor that burns biomatter would probably do the job better. A few years ago there was a minor media freakout when someone announced they were working on powerplants for robots that burned dead bodies for fuel; IIRC, the idea was to burn things like roadkill and leaves and such, but people promptly assumed that these would be giant killbots that would eat people.
 

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Orionblamblam said:
bobbymike said:
Well food and water ARE energy for animals and can be found in nature while spare refined gasoline or a battery pack are a little harder to come by in the wild

In principle, an advanced enough robot should be able to power itself in the field. Solar would be handy, but a built-in chemical reactor that burns biomatter would probably do the job better. A few years ago there was a minor media freakout when someone announced they were working on powerplants for robots that burned dead bodies for fuel; IIRC, the idea was to burn things like roadkill and leaves and such, but people promptly assumed that these would be giant killbots that would eat people.

LOL, I remember that one. They should have just said it was, "green and environmentally friendly". ;D
 

marauder2048

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sferrin said:
Orionblamblam said:
bobbymike said:
Well food and water ARE energy for animals and can be found in nature while spare refined gasoline or a battery pack are a little harder to come by in the wild

In principle, an advanced enough robot should be able to power itself in the field. Solar would be handy, but a built-in chemical reactor that burns biomatter would probably do the job better. A few years ago there was a minor media freakout when someone announced they were working on powerplants for robots that burned dead bodies for fuel; IIRC, the idea was to burn things like roadkill and leaves and such, but people promptly assumed that these would be giant killbots that would eat people.

LOL, I remember that one. They should have just said it was, "green and environmentally friendly". ;D

"Yes sir we evacuated those POWs and the civilian casualties ..."
 

Grey Havoc

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marauder2048 said:
sferrin said:
Orionblamblam said:
bobbymike said:
Well food and water ARE energy for animals and can be found in nature while spare refined gasoline or a battery pack are a little harder to come by in the wild

In principle, an advanced enough robot should be able to power itself in the field. Solar would be handy, but a built-in chemical reactor that burns biomatter would probably do the job better. A few years ago there was a minor media freakout when someone announced they were working on powerplants for robots that burned dead bodies for fuel; IIRC, the idea was to burn things like roadkill and leaves and such, but people promptly assumed that these would be giant killbots that would eat people.

LOL, I remember that one. They should have just said it was, "green and environmentally friendly". ;D

"Yes sir we evacuated those POWs and the civilian casualties ..."

Ah, our old friend EATR (Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot).
 

AeroFranz

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Alas, what these robots need is an energetically dense fuel.
Solar irradiance is something like 1000 W/m^2 at sea level. A good, encapsulated, hardened (not lab experiment) solar cell may be 20% efficient. So you're left with 200 W/m^2 on a sunny day when the sun is overhead, less before and after. Then you have to somehow store it (and lose some in the electrochemical process), actually store enough that it will last through the night as well if need be. That's a lot of m^2 of solar cells that are needed to get enough Watts to move the mass of a robot carrying stuff.

OTOH, most hydrocarbon fuels are around 128,000 BTUs/gal...
 

jsport

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AeroFranz said:
Alas, what these robots need is an energetically dense fuel.
Solar irradiance is something like 1000 W/m^2 at sea level. A good, encapsulated, hardened (not lab experiment) solar cell may be 20% efficient. So you're left with 200 W/m^2 on a sunny day when the sun is overhead, less before and after. Then you have to somehow store it (and lose some in the electrochemical process), actually store enough that it will last through the night as well if need be. That's a lot of m^2 of solar cells that are needed to get enough Watts to move the mass of a robot carrying stuff.

OTOH, most hydrocarbon fuels are around 128,000 BTUs/gal...
Alas thank you AeroFranz for pointing out the energy density issue again.. UGVs, UAS, exoskeletons, AFVs, naval guns etc.
 

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bobbymike said:
bigvlada said:
Silencer1 said:
I wonder, if such 4-legged robots could be really useful for non-military purpose?

People tries to improve military vehicles with dramatic efforts, and forget that this technology could save lives or improve quality of life...

Give Bear Gryles one, for testing. :) A lot of uses for a horse/mule/donkey that does not need food or water, just energy.
Well food and water ARE energy for animals and can be found in nature while spare refined gasoline or a battery pack are a little harder to come by in the wild

Not in the desert or polar regions. Much easier to charge batteries.
Orionblamblam said:
bobbymike said:
Well food and water ARE energy for animals and can be found in nature while spare refined gasoline or a battery pack are a little harder to come by in the wild

In principle, an advanced enough robot should be able to power itself in the field. Solar would be handy, but a built-in chemical reactor that burns biomatter would probably do the job better. A few years ago there was a minor media freakout when someone announced they were working on powerplants for robots that burned dead bodies for fuel; IIRC, the idea was to burn things like roadkill and leaves and such, but people promptly assumed that these would be giant killbots that would eat people.

Soylent green powered :D

AeroFranz said:
Alas, what these robots need is an energetically dense fuel.
Solar irradiance is something like 1000 W/m^2 at sea level. A good, encapsulated, hardened (not lab experiment) solar cell may be 20% efficient. So you're left with 200 W/m^2 on a sunny day when the sun is overhead, less before and after. Then you have to somehow store it (and lose some in the electrochemical process), actually store enough that it will last through the night as well if need be. That's a lot of m^2 of solar cells that are needed to get enough Watts to move the mass of a robot carrying stuff.

OTOH, most hydrocarbon fuels are around 128,000 BTUs/gal...

hmm, how about some hypergolic rocket fuel then? Aerozine 50?
 

sferrin

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jsport said:
AeroFranz said:
Alas, what these robots need is an energetically dense fuel.
Solar irradiance is something like 1000 W/m^2 at sea level. A good, encapsulated, hardened (not lab experiment) solar cell may be 20% efficient. So you're left with 200 W/m^2 on a sunny day when the sun is overhead, less before and after. Then you have to somehow store it (and lose some in the electrochemical process), actually store enough that it will last through the night as well if need be. That's a lot of m^2 of solar cells that are needed to get enough Watts to move the mass of a robot carrying stuff.

OTOH, most hydrocarbon fuels are around 128,000 BTUs/gal...
Alas thank you AeroFranz for pointing out the energy density issue again.. UGVs, UAS, exoskeletons, AFVs, naval guns etc.

Naval guns don't have any worse energy density problem than any other type of gun. (That is to say, little if any problem.)
 

sferrin

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bigvlada said:
hmm, how about some hypergolic rocket fuel then? Aerozine 50?

It's the noise from combustion that's the problem.
 

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-alphabet-m-a-softbank-group-idUSKBN19001P

It looks like Google's parent company, Alphabet sold off Boston Dynamics to a Japanese telecommunications firm. I really wished an American company made the purchase, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin etc.

:-\
 

sferrin

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skyblue said:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-alphabet-m-a-softbank-group-idUSKBN19001P

It looks like Google's parent company, Alphabet sold off Boston Dynamics to a Japanese telecommunications firm. I really wished an American company made the purchase, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin etc.

:-\

Well, there goes the US's best bet.
 

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Boston Dynamics is good at one thing (leggedmobility) that may not be terribly important to operational robotics in the near term. And they're far from the only people doing it, they just get good PR.
 

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TomS said:
Boston Dynamics is good at one thing (leggedmobility) that may not be terribly important to operational robotics in the near term. And they're far from the only people doing it, they just get good PR.

Well, apparently someone thinks they're the best in the biz at robots with tentacles. Or why else would the Japanese have bought 'em?
 

jsport

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Agree w/ TomS and Bostonites will always need competition (hopefully internal Japanese corporate subsids) to check/vector their arrogance.
 

sferrin

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jsport said:
Agree w/ TomS and Bostonites will always need competition (hopefully internal Japanese corporate subsids) to check/vector their arrogance.

Arrogance? Why? Because they're the obvious leaders it must follow they are arrogant?
 

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Boston Dynamics developed their technology over the course of many years with principal funding from the US military (DARPA, USMC, and Army). This was a rare case of long term support for a technology whose eventual mastery would enable mechanized logistics support over terrain where wheeled transport just can't cope. They have finally reached a point where power supply is the main limitation.

It is the near animal like dexterity of their robots which has generated the "PR" status of the company rather than any advertising budget to the extent they even have one. Any other company or institution that displayed a similar capability would garner the same attention.

I always wondered to what extent their technology developed by US military financing was subject to ITAR restrictions. Softbank is something of an investment house and hopefully will not cannibalize the company for its technology. Before Softbank, Toyota had been mentioned as the prospective buyer but Toyota would certainly have been interested in transferring the technology in-house. I am hoping that ITAR issues are at play and that Softbank will resume the practice of letting Boston Dynamics pursue military R&D funding to keep the technology moving forwards.

Toyota Robot
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRpE7F3Xurs
 

jsport

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sferrin said:
jsport said:
Agree w/ TomS and Bostonites will always need competition (hopefully internal Japanese corporate subsids) to check/vector their arrogance.

Arrogance? Why? Because they're the obvious leaders it must follow they are arrogant?

Have you ever to Boston
talked to academics etc there.
The idea the soldier technology is dependent on that state is a travesty.
 

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bobbymike said:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_luhn7TLfWU

In the part of the video where the robot is running and jumping freely, watch out for the high technology camera tracking system . . . ::)

cheers,
Robin.
 

jsport

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For the time & $ the US should be farther ahead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPEg83vF_Tw
 

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Orionblamblam said:
TomS said:
Boston Dynamics is good at one thing (leggedmobility) that may not be terribly important to operational robotics in the near term. And they're far from the only people doing it, they just get good PR.

Well, apparently someone thinks they're the best in the biz at robots with tentacles. Or why else would the Japanese have bought 'em?
They were bought because they were for sale...all the other companies involved in this line of work are safely tucked up under the wings of big companies, Bosch, Toyota, PAL robotics, FESTO etc etc

As was said people talk about Boston dynamics because BD has the best PR..That's not to take away from them, they are very good but they are not some so far beyond everyone else robotics power hosue.
 

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jsport said:
For the time & $ the US should be farther ahead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPEg83vF_Tw
The US doesn't overwhelming pump cash into robotics...hell the EU's Horizon 2020 programme alone has a robotics budget of 700 million Euros (almost 3 billion when you add in the industrial involved)
And that's not even what individual countries do.
 

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BD was left rudderless after going into Google because the main guy (Rubin) who was assembling a team of extraordinary magnitude suddenly left. Then there was the infighting between BD software guys and their handcrafted code, and Google going all in on machine learning which would have meant throwing away years of code and starting over (would have been worth it but...) which reflects a common trope of software development (pets/cattle).

The more important part of this deal is Shaft, who were developing superior electric actuator tech. Integrating that more into BD frames, rather than pneumatic/hydraulic, would have done wonders.

Killer app is BD's Handle frame robot, for last 100m package delivery when paired with autodriving parcel trucks acting a roving neighborhood motherships for the robots. Roll when you can, walk when you can't, get it to figure out how to push elevator buttons and you have the perfect last mile deliverybot, which in japan would be huge.
 

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