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Google Owns The BigDog


Caroline Moss, BI, Google Just Bought A Company That Makes Insane Walking Robots, here. Seems like it’s time to saddle up the BigDog and make a movie of folks riding it like a horse. Alternatively you could go the BigDog/Lipizzaner Stallion route, like this, but you’d have to replace the gas engine noise soundtrack with a lively Strauss waltz, if you want that to fly. The other obvious thing we want to see is BigDog on skates, preferably playing hockey but figure skating  or speed skating are not out of the question. Followed, of course, by mounted BigDog on skates activities. I’d expect there is a Will Ferrell movie in there, somewhere. Just triangulate Jackie Moon, Blades of Glory, and Ballad of Ricky Bobby and you are done. The movie and serialization profits will pay for 20+ years of BigDog research. You could put the most hateful and despised person in America riding a BigDog in skating rink and you got massive Funny with a capital “F.”

Oh, and skis for sure.

Google just bought Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon, reports The New York Times.

Boston Dynamics is based in Waltham, Mass.

The company creates “machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and even — cheetahlike — run faster than the fastest humans,” says The Times.

John Markoff, NYT, Google Adds to Its Menagerie of Robots, here.

Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 by Marc Raibert, a former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It has not sold robots commercially, but has pushed the limits of mobile and off-road robotics technology, mostly for Pentagon clients like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa. Early on, the company also did consulting work for Sony on consumer robots like the Aibo robotic dog.

Boston Dynamics’ walking robots have a reputation for being extraordinarily agile, able to walk over rough terrain and handle surfaces that in some cases are challenging even for humans.

Erico Guizzo, IEEE Spectrum, Marc Raibert: What’s New Since BigBog? here.

The IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) kicked off yesterday here in Tokyo with a keynote by the father of BigDog.

Marc Raibert, CTO and founder of Boston Dynamics, the company famous for robots like BigDogAlphaDogPetmanAtlasCheetah, and WildCat, gave attendees a peek at some of the projects that are keeping him and his engineers busy. Raibert, wearing his customary Aloha shirt, played several videos, including some that Boston Dynamics has not made publicly available. The footage and outtakes showing the company’s robots walking, running, climbing, and jumping—and, occasionally, breaking and crashing—left the robot-loving audience ecstatic.


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