February 10, 2011
The Terminator of Gun Dogs
By Chad Love
Here's an interesting (and, I have to admit, a little creepy) story and accompanying video sent to me by F&S Contributing Editor Eddie Nickens. The military, it seems, is developing a transport robot called BigDog, and although it's billed as a robotic pack mule, the creature's shape and physiology are seemingly based on Man's Best Friend.
From this story on Wired.com
The military’s creepily life-like robotic pack mule can now trot along at five miles per hour — and trudge through mud as it goes uphill. Earlier footage of BigDog, the mechanical quadruped built by Boston Dynamics and funded by Darpa, showed the mecha-creature climbing over hills, stomping through snow, surviving swift kicks to the chops, and hiking alongside troops at Ft. Benning . Boston Dynamics’ latest BigDog video is mostly a compilation of those earlier accomplishments, plus some new footage from a quick run and from a muddy march at Quantico.
Watching the video, my first thought was Bill Heavey's feature story (in the current print edition of F&S) on native subsistence hunters and how they traditionally used dogs as their primary pack animals.
But my second thought was: Hmmm, could you build a gundog from this platform? I mean, if they could increase the speed a little, figure out a way to install scent receptors, add a head and jaws for retrieving and a faux-fur you'd have...well, you'd have a creepy fake dog that might receive a command from Skynet instructing it to eliminate you and your family as part of the machines' worldwide war against humanity.
On third thought, maybe we should stick to real dogs for some things...